New principal chosen at Woodford County High School
Becoming principal at Woodford County High School allows Morgan Howell to continue making a difference in the lives of students before they decide what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives, he said. Howell, who’s been an assistant principal at East Jessamine High School since 2016, described coming to a district with high expectations for students as “something I wanted to be a part of.” Like he did at East Jessamine, Howell said he will remain invested in the classroom by helping mentor students and, hopefully, teaching a philosophy class at WCHS. “I’m not going to be doing that this year,” he acknowledged when asked about balancing his administrative and teaching responsibilities. “… But once I get settled in, I’d love to teach a class.” He said teaching keeps you grounded and connected to students in a classroom setting. The WCHS site-based council selected Howell, 43, as their school’s new principal last Friday morning. Of the six candidates interviewed for the position, Howell stood out as meeting the criteria established by the council (based on survey information from parents, students and staff about what they wanted in a new principal), schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said. “He’s just very down to earth, very sincere,” Hawkins said of Howell. He said people who have worked with Howell were very complimentary of his ability to build relationships with students and staff, and his willingness to take on any task. “So I just think he’s going to be a really, really good fit for Woodford County High School,” Hawkins said. Howell began his career as an educator at Franklin County High School in 2002, where he taught freshman classes in government and economics. He moved into administration as an assistant principal there in January 2010, after his predecessor retired. “Once I got into it,” said Howell, “I liked it. And I liked it for different reasons. I could support teachers. So instead of complaining about things, I’m actually now being a part of the solution.” He also appreciated having an opportunity to work on strategies to curb disciplinary issues and help students when they were at their most vulnerable, he said. “It’s not just about the consequences … it’s about changing the behavior so they’re not making the same mistake again,” he said. “Usually changing behavior – that involves establishing those relationships, it involves mentoring some of these young men and young women.” Besides his experience as a teacher and assistant principal, Howell has served in the Kentucky Army National Guard since 1998. He’s currently a chief warrant officer with the 138th Field Artillery Brigade in Lexington and teaches a military history to warrant officer candidates, he said. The Ohio native and self-proclaimed “big Ohio State fan” graduated from Bryan Station High School in 1995. He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education at Morehead State University in 2002. Howell said he pursued a degree in education because he wanted to share his passion for history and social studies with students. He also wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of high school age students, he explained. Howell credited his military background for teaching him “it’s not about you. It’s about everybody else.” And he also learned a person’s character determines whether or not that individual will achieve success – not a high ACT score or 3.6 grade point average. Even so, Howell said it’s important not to lower expectations for students – academically or behaviorally – so they are prepared to be successful whether they pursue a college degree or learn a skill in a trade school. Howell, who earned a master’s degree in school administration at the University of Kentucky in 2009, said he doesn’t have any big plans for the coming school year – other than to understand the culture of Woodford County High School, and “how I can support what’s already there.” He views his role as ensuring a safe learning environment for students where teachers are the instructional leaders.