Jose Ramirez Salazar, a rising senior at Gainesville High, sat in the foyer near the school’s front entrance on Friday, May 24, and reflected on the final day of the 2018-19 academic year.
Ramirez Salazar said it was a good year for him, pointing to Principal Jamie Green as one reason why.
“Honestly, he’s the best principal I’ve had so far,” Ramirez Salazar said.
This was Green’s first year leading Gainesville High after a previous stint in administration at Riverside Military Academy.
“They say the goal of every first-year principal is to become a second-year principal,” Green joked. “So, I’ve made it in that sense.”
Green said it was an honor to lead the 125th graduating class of Gainesville High, and he made it a point in his first year to “pour into the kids.”
That meant getting to know them on a personal level, celebrating their academic and athletic successes, and sharing moments of joy together.
It’s about “putting relationships first,” Green said. “If you don’t know a kid … you can’t nurture them. … You can’t prepare them.”
Investing in students has paid off, Green said, with this year’s graduates earning national merit awards and many planning to attend the likes of the University of Georgia and Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall.
Ramirez Salazar said Green’s presence was felt and known to the entire student body, and he’s looking forward to his senior year, where he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his sister, who graduated this year, by joining the National Art Honor Society student group on campus.
Green said Gainesville High’s tradition brings the student body together. Everyone is a Red Elephant here, and the school’s diversity strengthens these ties.
“They recognize it’s a privilege to be a part of that,” Green said. “What might divide us nationally, at the local level, it unites us. And we celebrate it. We celebrate it every day.”
Green said now that he’s completed his first year leading Gainesville High, he will focus more attention on long-term strategic initiatives, such as connecting students earlier to work-study and career-pathway options as well as advanced studies.
Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said a community meeting hosted by the Newtown Florist Club civil rights group on Thursday, May 23, was informative for him and helped “ensure constant dialogue between the school system and the communities we serve.”
“I was pleased with the turnout and the ideas shared,” Williams added.