HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (Sept.30, 2022) –Walking through the front door to a cheering crowd of Innovative High School students, staff, and family, Principal Shannon Auten was surprised with the news on Thursday that she has been named the 2022-23 Principal of the Year for Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS).
Everyone gathered in the atrium with posters, balloons, and plenty of sticks with Auten’s face on them. One student made an entire costume out of posters. After the surprise set in, Superintendent Mark R. Garrett jokingly asked her for a speech.
“This is all because of you guys,” Auten said, fighting back tears. “I can’t really talk that much because I am going to cry. Thank you, thank you!”
A thoughtful (and yummy) addition to the celebration were the refreshments prepared by students in the Career Academy Culinary Program. There was lemon mascarpone layer cake, cucumber bites, sausage balls, and more.
Each school year, the HCPS Principal of the Year is nominated by and voted on by his or her peers – the other 22 principals in the district – giving special significance to the designation.
“Mrs. Auten is a compassionate and thoughtful leader who always puts the needs of her students first. Her ability to build positive relationships with students, staff, and the community is one of her greatest assets,” said HCPS Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources W. Scott Rhodes. “We are blessed to have amazing school leaders in our school system and to be selected as Principal of the Year by your peers is an amazing accomplishment.”
Superintendent Mark R. Garrett spoke to the impressive growth that both Henderson County Early College and Henderson County Career Academy received for the state’s 2021-22 accountability results. “It is great to see Mrs. Auten receive this well deserved recognition from her peers. As Principal of the Innovative High School, she does a masterful job leading two separate schools. Both recently received high marks on the state accountability system which is always exciting to see. With her commitment to continuous school improvement and passion for establishing relationships with every person in both her schools, Mrs. Auten is a true force of nature in the world of education. We are proud to have her representing Henderson County Public Schools as the 2022-2023 Principal of the Year.”
Auten was hired in 2006 as a counselor at West, and after five years was named Assistant Principal. She served in this role from 2011 to 2016, when she became Principal of the Falcons. Auten served as principal at West Henderson High from 2016 to 2020.
In 2020, Auten was named Principal of both the Henderson County Early College and Henderson County Career Academy, in the Innovative High Schools building on the Blue Ridge Community College campus and has served in that role ever since.
“Mrs. Auten is very responsive to the diverse needs of our most important stakeholders, which are our students. In the same degree, Principal Auten imparts support to our Teachers, so that they’re prepared and empowered to maximize student engagement in a welcoming learning environment. We’re truly two great schools with one great purpose, shared Assistant Principal Dr. Rod Brown.
Auten has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a minor in Chinese and a minor in Business from Villanova University. She has a Master’s in School Counseling and a Master’s in School Administration from Western Carolina University.