Brian Suits says he got more than he expected when he went to the cafeteria at Dalton Middle School on Thursday.
“I knew we were going to make an announcement,” he said. “We’d been celebrating American Heart Week all week, so I thought it was going to be something about that.”
But when he saw Melton Callahan, executive director of the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP), Suits knew they weren’t there for Heart Week.
“Then my family came in and a lot of my friends, some of who I hadn’t seen in a while,” he said.
They were all there to watch Suits, principal of Dalton Middle School, receive the middle school principal of the year award for Georgia from the principals association.
“It was very humbling, but also very exciting,” Suits said.
Suits was named one of three finalists for the honor in January.
“I’m still not sure who nominated me, but I’m very grateful,” he said. “After being nominated, the association asked me to fill out an application. It was very detailed with information about our school such as test scores and population. Then they asked me some detailed questions. After I was named a finalist, I had to go to Athens for an interview before a panel that included at least one former national principal of the year and several former state winners. It took 45 minutes. It was a little nerve-wracking, but when you have a story as good to tell as our school has, it wasn’t too bad.”
The criteria for selection included excellence at both the personal and school level.
Suits will now go on to be considered for national principal of the year. He said the most exciting thing about the award is that it gives him opportunities to tell people about Dalton Middle School.
“I’ll have the chance to meet with other educators and legislators around the state,” he said. “At some point, I’ll go to Washington, D.C., where all state principals of the year will be sharing ideas. I’ll be learning from those people, and I hope they can learn something from what we’ve been doing.”
Suits has served as the principal of Dalton Middle for 14 years. He came to Dalton Middle after serving as assistant principal at Dalton High School.
“I’m so excited for Brian to receive this award,” said Jim Hawkins, superintendent of Dalton Public Schools, in a statement. “He is very deserving of this award. He is committed to making every student feel important and valued at Dalton Middle, even as the school’s student enrollment has grown exponentially over the last few years. GASSP couldn’t have picked a better principal for this award.”
Suits gave credit to the teachers and other administrators who work with him.
“I work with the very best people. It’s a joy to come into work every day, and now I get a chance to tell others about them,” he said.