'A great fit'

Brandon Watkins

After a 15-year long career with Madison County Schools, the principal of Madison Southern High School is saying goodbye

Soon he'll be working with Montgomery County Schools as its director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

"I wasn't really looking (for a new job)," Brandon Watkins said. "It was posted in April, and I had a couple of contacts in Montgomery reach out and ask if I was interested."

Watkins explained his sister, her family, and his father all live there.

"It seemed to be a good fit and location," he said. "It was something that really intrigued me."

So after thinking about it, Watkins put in his application in April, was interviewed and eventually was offered the position.

"I kind of felt like it was time for me to kind of take that next step in my professional career, and I felt like I was ready for it," he said.

But that didn't make it an easy decision, as his entire career thus far has been with Madison County Schools since he graduated from Eastern Kentucky University.

"I've been a principal for almost 10 years," he said.

Watkins started out as a teacher in 2005 at Madison Southern, and in 2011, is when Farristown Middle School opened. Watkins was chosen to work as assistant principal.

"That was such a neat experience to be able to open a middle school, or any school really," he said. "That was something that was a really big part of my career."

What made it even more neat was that after two and a half years at Farristown, Watkins followed the students he grew to know to high school when he accepted a position as associate principal at Madison Southern.

"I spent seven years with that group of kids," he said.

It was very special for him to watch them grow, mature and see success.

After one year as associate principal, Watkins was promoted to head principal at Madison Southern.

He's also coached sports over the years, so the memories he has with Madison County Schools, he said, has made it really hard to think about leaving.

"The time I've been principal here, over the five years, we have averaged being in the top 15% of high school in Kentucky," he said.

The past five years, Madison Southern is ranked between 20th and 45th in the state out of more than 230 high schools in Kentucky. Watkins added the school has also had a lot of success in athletics, too.

Leaving is made even harder by the fact Watkins couldn't say his goodbyes in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's been tough this year with the current climate we're in," Watkins said. "This group of seniors, they were a special group of kids. Knowing them for many years, it's kind of tough."

Similarly, many in the school district will miss Watkins, as well.

"I don't mind saying Mr. Watkins will be missed in the district, and we wish him well in the next step in his career," said Erin Stewart, Community Education Director for Madison County Schools.

The school district's Site-Based Decision Making Council will received training on the process of searching for a new head principal, which Stewart said generally takes six weeks or longer.

"If all goes smoothly, I would expect a new head principal to be in place around the first of August," she said.

Watkins said he believes Madison Southern will continue to be successful and is excited to see where the school goes from here.

"I believe they can continue to grow," he said. "The school's got a great staff, great kids and a great community."

Meanwhile, he's looking forward to his new job in Montgomery County.

"I'll kind of be working there at Central Office to help support the schools in instruction that's going on," Watkins said.

He added that will come with its own challenges, as no one really knows what instruction will look like in the fall.

"But, I'll also be the district coordinator under the superintendent and chief academic officers," he said. That means Watkins will be helping with instructional goals and vision for the school district.

He called it a blessed opportunity.

"I feel like Montgomery County is an outstanding school district, and it seems to be a great fit," he said.

Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.

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