This fall Gregory Roach will become rebel of a different color.
Maryville City Schools announced Monday that the Knoxville West High School principal will be principal at Maryville High School.
Like Maryville High School, West High School is known as the Rebels.
“Ironically, we’re blue and red, and Maryville is red and black. I’m getting back to my high school colors - Central High was red and black. I guess I’m coming back full circle on colors,” Roach said with a laugh.
“Right now I’ve got one foot in each school year and one foot in each school,” he said.
Roach replaces Mike Casteel who recently stepped down as MHS principal.
Roach said he first had contact about the job from assistant schools director Dr. Mike Winstead and that fired his imagination. “I really just started thinking about the possibility of working in a smaller system with a little more personal contact,” he said. “I went into it with us interviewing each other. After three or four sessions, initially with the committee and then with the superintendent and assistant superintendent, it felt like a pretty good fit.”
Roach said Maryville High School and the system as a whole has an excellent reputation across the state for its academics and athletics. “It seems to have an environment that is focused on education,” he said.
The incoming principal said so many of the changes facing the high school and education in general are coming from state government. “Tennessee has a great opportunity with the Race to the Top funding, and there is no doubt the academic rigors needed to increase statewide,” he said. “Maryville is positioned well to take students past what is currently being offered, and it is a great opportunity. What used to be college work is now high school work.”
Roach said he wants Maryville students to be college-ready when they leave the high school, regardless of whether the college is a private institution like Maryville College, a state school like the University of Tennessee, an Ivy League School, military academy or some other out-of-state school.
“Whatever the best of the best is, we need to be on the front edge with the rigor they need to be able to get into any type of college or military academy or whatever it might be that the students want,” he said.
Roach and his wife, Judy, will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary in December. They have two grown sons, both University of Tennessee graduates - Kendall Roach, 26, and Andrew Roach, 24. They both work in transportation and logistics.
The incoming principal said he wants to get to know the staff at the school. “I think the strength of most schools are the people already there and the relationships they have,” he said.
Roach said it is these constructive relationships that will propel the school forward. “I see myself as a facilitator and enabler,” he said. “I want to find the strengths there and help them do the best they can for the students there at the school.”
Roach and his wife live in Powell but he said they are considering moving. “We’ll be exploring all that,” he said. “With our boys grown and both our parents gone, we’ve been talking about downsizing. We’ll be looking at all that over the next few months.”
Stephanie Thompson, Maryville City Schools director, announced the decision to pick Roach as the new Maryville High School principal.
“I applaud the work of the interview committee that helped evaluate candidates for this important position on our leadership team,” said Thompson. “With great pleasure, I am looking forward to introducing Mr. Roach to our high school students, staff, parents and the entire education community in Maryville.”
Nineteen applications from around the region were reviewed by an interview team of professional educators and staff who ultimately interviewed five candidates. Thompson selected Roach for his “record of innovation, exemplary credentials, and breadth of experience,” she said in a press release.
Roach began his career in music education at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, later serving as music instructor at several middle and high schools in Knox County. Beginning in 2000, Roach served as assistant principal at West High School, where he was promoted to his current position as principal in 2007.
Roach’s professional experience also includes small business ownership. In addition to earning a bachelor of science in music from the University of Tennessee, Roach also completed his Master’s of Science in education and administration from Lincoln Memorial University and has numerous certifications and other advanced coursework.