School Board Approves Appointments of New Principals for Western Albemarle High School, Meriwether Lewis Elementary School

Jennifer Sublette (left) and Jennifer Underwood (right)

Two new principals have been appointed by the Albemarle County School Board in action taken at an afternoon school board meeting yesterday. Jennifer Sublette, who is the division’s Director of Professional Learning and is a former assistant principal for Western Albemarle High School, has been named the school’s new principal, effective today. Also promoted is Jennifer Underwood, who is the new principal for Meriwether Lewis Elementary School and previously served as an assistant principal at both Woodbrook Elementary and Meriwether Lewis.

Sublette has a deep tie to the Western school community, having attended the school and later returning as an administrator. As the Director of Professional Learning since 2018, she has led the division’s programming for developing and sharing best instructional practices; supported enhancements to grading and assessment for middle and high school students; launched a micro-credential program in the social, emotional and academic development of students; and headed the division’s anti-racism steering committee for the policy’s implementation among educators.

She also has been a lead coach for social studies curriculum, instruction and assessment, working to develop and share best classroom strategies and practices across the division. She taught social studies at Western for eight years, during which she was, for one year, a member of the Commonwealth’s review committee for its standards of learning assessment in World History.

In a message to the Western community, Sublette noted, “This is a formative time for our high school as we recover from the pandemic, think expansively about how we will reimage and expand innovative learning experiences, and engage productively with our community, drawing upon the ideas and expertise of every member of our team.”

“It has been my honor to be a member of our community and school for several decades. Throughout the years, I have appreciated the contributions of our students, faculty, families, and greater community in building that tradition of excellence. I continue to be impressed by the high expectations you each set and I am confident that, with your continued engagement, the years ahead will be an extraordinary time in our school community’s legacy,” she said.

Underwood also was a member of the division’s coaching model, serving as an instructional coach in support of teachers at Agnor-Hurt, Baker-Butler and Stone-Robinson elementary schools. She also taught at three elementary schools in the division. Her administrative experience includes two years as the assistant principal at Meriwether Lewis, and for the past three years, she has been the assistant principal for Woodbrook Elementary School.

Woodbrook’s principal, Kristen Williams, said of Underwood, “Jen’s opportunity to become a principal is not a surprise. She is a strong leader who has been an important contributor to our school, especially during the challenges this past year posed by the pandemic. Through her leadership in the implementation of culturally responsive practices, she also has been invaluable in helping us lift all students to reach their highest potential.”

Underwood said one of her immediate goals at Meriwether Lewis will be to build greater synergies among all grade levels. “My time as an instructional coach taught me the power of sharing best practices and putting together collaborative projects that yielded powerful learning experiences. I’d like to create more of these opportunities for our team and to continue to benefit from the passions our parents bring to their support for all of our students.”

Dr. Daphne Keiser, Director of Educator Quality, said the contributions of families and staff from both school communities were important in the selection process of both principals. “Through online surveys and by participating on our interview panels, representatives of our families and staff helped us to identify the best leaders for their schools,” Keiser said. “We were fortunate to have so many outstanding candidates. Both Ms. Sublette and Ms. Underwood were highly impressive in the passion they showed for their schools and in their optimism for the future, especially following such a challenging year for our learners,” she added.

Sublette is a two-time graduate of the University of Virginia, where she earned her BA and, later, an Ed.S. in Administration and Supervision. She also holds a Master’s in Teaching from American University. Sublette began her career in education in Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland in 1995. During her time in Maryland, she was also a faculty associate with Johns Hopkins University. She began her teaching career with Albemarle County Public Schools at Western in 2002.
 
Underwood, currently studying for her doctorate in education, earned her BA from Mary Baldwin College and her Master of Education from Averett University. Her teaching career began in Albemarle County in 2003 as a teacher at Hollymead Elementary School.

Pictured: Jennifer Sublette (left) and Jennifer Underwood (right)


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