April 10, 2009
Paul Henry is going home to realize a dream.
The Columbus High School athletic director and assistant principal was hired Monday night to be the principal at New Site High School in Prentiss County.
Henry will start June 1 at the Class 2A school that has a little less than 300 students.
"I have always kind of dreamed about being a high school principal," said Henry, who grew up in New Albany. "When the opportunity came up where I could go up to Prentiss County and be the new principal at New Site High School, it is a great school, a great school district, and a great community. They have a good superintendent, Mr. Matt Smith, and I am very excited about moving up there and becoming part of the New Site community."
Henry, 32, worked last year as the district''s athletic director and as an assistant principal at Lee Middle School.
This year, he moved up to Columbus High, a Class 5A school that has several times more students than New Site High.
In fact, Henry deals with 20 sports at Columbus High, while New Site High only has five or six. He also worked with 1,400-1,500 students in the Columbus school district. He said he is looking forward to building relationships at a smaller school, where he will have a chance to get to know every student.
Henry graduated from Myrtle High School in 1994. He earned his associate''s degree from Northeast Community College, his bachelor''s degree from Mississippi State, and worked as a student teacher in 1998-99 at Columbus High.
From there, he went to Hickory Flat High School, where he worked as softball, girls and boys basketball, and assistant baseball coach and athletic director.
Henry has spent the past five years in the Columbus school district. He has worked as a volleyball coach at the high school and as an assistant coach to boys basketball coach Sammy Smith.
He earned his master''s degree from MSU in 2008, which paved the way for him to realize his goal to become a principal.
Henry said he is proud he worked with all of the coaches in the district and tried to make sure all of the high school coaches had everything they needed to be successful. He praised the work of Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips and Columbus High Principal Craig Shannon for making his time here so enjoyable.
"I can''t say enough about the opportunities Columbus has given me," Henry said. "I worked for a great superintendent in Dr. Del Phillips. He makes sure you have what you need to be successful, and he made my job a lot easier as athletic director. I can''t say enough about what Dr. Phillips has brought to the table in Columbus and what he has accomplished in a short time. I look forward to seeing what he does accomplish in the next few years."Phillips thanked Henry for his service and said he planned to talk to Shannon to see what is the next best step for the school district. He said a job opening will be posted as quickly as possible.
"He has done a very good job," Phillips said. "We''re saddened to see him leave, but it shows we have quality people in our district."
Henry said his new job will allow his wife, Miss Emily Denise Henry, who is a teacher at Caledonia High School, to take a year off to care for their daughter, seven-week old Brooklyn Elise.
Smith said Henry''s wealth of experience as a coach in high school and in junior college and as an administrator the size of a school like Columbus appealed to him. He also said he liked the fact Henry appears to be someone who is fair, consistent, and aware of the total picture before making a decision.
Smith said Henry will replace a retired administrator who was called in to replace the previous New Site High principal, who stepped down earlier this school year to take a special education coordinator''s job.
He said Henry''s position is a yearly position that is renewed each year before Feb. 15. He hopes Henry will be in Prentiss County for a long time.
"He is Northeast Mississippi person," Smith said of Henry. "He worked at Northeast Mississippi with (women''s basketball coach Ricky) Ford, he has worked ballcamps with some of our kids, and he already knew what the makeup of Prentiss County was and New Site''s history," Smith said. "We have great hopes and great plans. We want to continue that hope, and I think his knowledge from bigger schools will help make us that much better."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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