Haynes named Alabama Middle School Principal of the Year

Published 10:58 am Wednesday, February 9, 2022

By EMILY SPARACINO | Staff Writer 

NORTH SHELBY – A Shelby County Schools principal has received one of the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals’ top awards for his exemplary work in administration.

Oak Mountain Middle School Principal Dr. Larry Haynes was named Alabama’s 2022 Middle School Principal of the Year on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Haynes said he was humbled to receive the award, noting the collaborative work among his colleagues, district leaders and the Shelby County Board of Education.

“This award isn’t about me,” Haynes said. “It’s because we have a team of people that work together in the best interest of the students. We’ve just got great people in place.”

After being named the Middle School Principal of the Year for District 5, Haynes was among three finalists for the Alabama Middle School Principal of the Year award.

The finalists were interviewed by a panel of judges at the AASSP/AAMSP Fall Conference in November to determine the winner.

“It meant a lot to be selected from our district,” Haynes said, adding District 5 includes Shelby, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties.

Haynes has worked in education for 35 years, 20 of which have been in administrative roles.

Haynes earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Montevallo in 1986 and an education specialist degree in 1995.

He earned his doctorate in education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2017.

Haynes started his teaching career at Montevallo High School.

“I thoroughly enjoyed those years in the classroom,” he said. “The Montevallo community will always be special in my heart, and the Oak Mountain community will always be special in my heart.”

After completing a 15-year stint at MHS, Haynes worked as an assistant principal at Oak Mountain High School for three years before moving to Oak Mountain Middle School, where he is in his 18th year as principal.

“I do love the things that we get to do with the students at this age to prepare them for high school,” Haynes said. “They’re transitioning from elementary and intermediate classrooms to the secondary world, and it’s very different. We have them for those three years, and they change so much. It’s a great opportunity, and I enjoy that side of it.”

Haynes’s doctoral research focused on best practices for transitioning students from middle to high school.

“They will amaze you at their resilience and how sharp they are,” Haynes said of students in this age group. “They just need caring and supportive adults who can challenge them, have high expectations and help them to have every learning opportunity possible. We’re here to help them accomplish their goals.”

Haynes said teamwork is a key element at Oak Mountain Middle School, along with parental involvement.

“We have a very strong team and family atmosphere at this school,” he added. “We’re very collaborative. We enjoy being around each other, we enjoy our jobs and we enjoy working with the students and doing what we can to help them.”

Haynes said meeting the social and emotional needs of students and staff members is important, too.

“It’s all about a balance,” he said. “You’ve got to nurture and support and be there for one another. You’ve got to build a strong consensus with everybody, a strong team.”

In a press release about Haynes’s award, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks said he was extremely proud the honor was bestowed upon Haynes, his longtime colleague and friend.

“Dr. Haynes is a dedicated professional who is committed to serving his school and community,” Brooks said. “There is no one that I know of that has a bigger heart for people.”

Haynes said Brooks, previous SCS superintendents and the BOE have helped to make the school system as successful as it is today.

“If you don’t have everybody working together, there would have been no success over these years,” Haynes said. “It is a fantastic school system to work in, and I’ve been so blessed to be in this system.”

CLAS and AASSP Executive Director Dr. Vic Wilson described Haynes as an “active leader through his work in the Alabama Association of Middle School Principals, the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools and other professional and community organizations,” and added, “He is wholeheartedly dedicated to his school and community.”

As a part of winning the award, which is sponsored by Horace Mann, Haynes will receive an office makeover from Interior Elements.

Haynes also will be recognized at the awards luncheon during the CLAS Convention at the BJCC in Birmingham in June.

“It’s truly been my calling,” Haynes said of his job. “It’s just been such a blessing to get to know and work with all these students and teachers. Every day is a new adventure.”