Garvey Returns to a Community She Loves

Katy Garvey is a new principal with an old affiliation when it comes to Seneca Ridge Middle School.

For three years (2010-13), she was an assistant principal at the neighboring Dominion High School. “It’s nice to have been in ‘Titan Territory,’ know what that’s like and try to bridge that gap for kids with what they’ll be faced with…I applied for (the Seneca Ridge principal’s job) because it’s the perfect fit.”

Garvey said she will continue joint monthly administrative meetings with Dominion High School Principal John Brewer and his staff. The administrators will map out the best practices for Seneca Ridge students to become successful Titans. “Having that relationship, makes it so powerful,” said Garvey. “The expectations are high.”

Garvey said the expectations for her students also are clear. “One is just the rigor of high school and then being responsible citizens. That’s one thing they expect (at Dominion), which is important for us to expect here too. Raising the bar, teaching them our expectations, making sure we’re clear with what we’re asking. (We want them) to be proud citizens of Sterling, of Loudoun County.”

Part of the rigor of high school involves increased academic accountability, Garvey added. “When you get to high school, a lot goes on your GPA; everything counts.

“At the same, I think middle school is the time for risk-taking. If there’s ever a time to explore an honors class for kids who might have thought they could never be on that path, this is the time to do it. Take an honors class, explore an elective you may not have thought you would like. It isn’t going on your transcript necessarily…They can take those risks, yet we have the support systems here to catch them and help direct them if they need it.”

Garvey’s early career experience didn’t suggest she would be a middle school principal. She taught Spanish at Hayfield Secondary School and Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax before coming to Dominion in 2010. Sensing that middle school was where she might eventually land, Garvey sought out some experience at that level. But not just any experience. “I was picky.”

She applied for an assistant principal’s job at J. Michael Lunsford Middle School because of the cutting-edge reputation of its then-principal, Neil Slevin. “His ideas were fresh. He was into technology. He was a well-respected, forward-thinking principal.”

Once she got some middle school experience, Garvey decided that was where she belonged. “I thought I was a high school person…The energy in middle school – of the students and staff – is just like none other…The transition from sixth to eighth grade is so huge. It’s neat to see them evolve. When they come in, they’re really just big elementary school students.

“I was amazed by how much I liked it.”

When she sought out a middle school principal’s position, Seneca Ridge was her first choice. “What I love here is the mix of kids; it’s one of the most exciting things… When they come here, the playing field is level…

“I love coming into an established community where the school is the established heart of the community.” (Seneca Ridge celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.)

Garvey also is excited to use her fluency in Spanish more often. (Seneca Ridge’s population is 13 percent English language learners.) “One of my goals is to be relatable to the kids and parents and get some of the parents in.”

And once parents and students are “in,” Garvey will do her best to ensure they stay there. “I want them to know that I’m big into relationships. The best thing I can do as a principal is be visible to the community, to the kids… Really get to know the kids and, in turn, support the teachers. They can come to me with any questions, concerns, issues and we’ll find a way to solve them together. I’m big into the partnership between home and school.”

Garvey’s family is heavily involved in education. Her husband, Brian, is the athletic director at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax. Her late mother, Georgia McGuire, was principal of Freedom Hill Elementary in Fairfax. “I kind of grew up always knowing that I wanted to be in education. Education is something I value. It’s the best thing we can give to help our children succeed in the future.”

Garvey is the mother of a 6-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. She said her mother taught her how to balance parenthood and a career. “At the end of the day you have to balance; and she did a good job of that. She was always around as a mon, but she also was always around as a principal.”

Garvey said it’s special to take her children to the playground at Freedom Hill Elementary named for their grandmother.

“It is quite a legacy to live up to.”

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Posted by on Dec 1 2016. Filed under Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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