Lee Downey will become principal at Louisa County High School July 1, after Tom Smith leaves the position at the end of the current school year.
Currently principal at the middle school, Downey says he will miss working every day with his current staff and students, but at the same time looks forward to his new role in the coming year.
“But I’ll just be across the parking lot,” he told staff at the middle school.
Although he will inherit a mobile campus next year, he eagerly anticipates the 2015-16 school year when students and faculty move to the new high school building. He will play a pivotal role in making it all come together smoothly that year.
“I just want everything to go perfectly,” Downey said. “We want it to go as best as possible.”
In the meantime, Downey said he wants to carry over the sense of family atmosphere that he has at the middle school with students, faculty and staff at the high school. He also plans to continue the academic success that Smith has achieved and said he will continue to keep the bar high.
“I’m not looking to turn the place upside down,” Downey said. “We’re going to make good things happen across the board.”
Downey initially arrived in Louisa fresh out of Oswego College in 2000. With an elementary education degree and middle school add-on in hand, he was hired to teach eighth-grade math at Louisa County Middle School.
He taught math there until the end of the 2004 school year before transferring to the high school to teach geometry for two years.
However, Downey knew that he eventually wanted to become an assistant principal, so he went back to school and earned a master’s in administration from Old Dominion University.
Not long afterward, Downey moved to Lenoir, North Carolina where he was hired as an assistant principal at South Lenoir High School, then was asked to become assistant principal of an alternative school that housed both middle and high school students.
After three months at the alternative school, he was named assistant principal at an early college high school that was funded by the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation. The school was located on the Lenoir Community College campus.
However, the Downeys found it grueling to make the 15-hour drive to visit their parents in New York and longed to be closer to home and in an environment where the community was friendly.
It is that warm and caring sense of community that brought Downey and his family back to Louisa County in 2008 when he accepted the high school athletic director position.
For Downey and his wife, Jennifer, it was a no-brainer. They both missed the friends that they had previously made in Louisa, it was a great community to raise their three children in, and it cut the travel time in half to visit their parents.
“We had realized what we had given up,” Downey said.
While athletic director at the high school, Downey worked closely with football coach Mark Fischer and enjoyed working in an exciting program.
To read the entire story, see the March 13 edition of The Central Virginian.