TAJE

McCallum principal Garrison wins AOY

Mike Garrison, principal of Austin McCallum High School, accepts the Administrator of the Year Award at the ILPC spring convention at the University of Texas, Sunday, April 19. Looking on is TAJE executive director Rhonda Moore, who nominated him for the award.

Margie Raper

Mike Garrison, principal of Austin McCallum High School, accepts the Administrator of the Year Award at the ILPC spring convention at the University of Texas, Sunday, April 19. Looking on is TAJE executive director Rhonda Moore, who nominated him for the award.

Dianne Smith, compiled from various sources, TAJE webmaster

Mike Garrison, principal of Austin McCallum High School, accepts the Administrator of the Year Award at the ILPC spring convention at the University of Texas, Sunday, April 19. Looking on is TAJE executive director Rhonda Moore, who nominated him for the award.[/caption]Mike Garrison, principal of Austin McCallum High School, was named TAJE’s Administrator of the Year last weekend at the ILPC spring meeting at the University of Texas.

“In the second issue of our newspaper this year, my students planned to cover a tragic accident that happened at our school,” Rhonda Moore, student publications adviser at McCallum and TAJE executive director, said.

“A parent whose family was involved in the accident did not want us to cover the story. Although I completely understood why not, I supported my students and let them make the decision,” she said.

When the parent found out they were going to publish the story, she went to Garrison.

“When I went to talk to him about it, the first thing he told me was that he told her we had the right to print the story,” Moore said.

Moore said it was at that moment she realized she wanted to nominate him for the award.

“I was very worried when Mr. Garrison was hired to be the principal at McCallum,” Moore said.

Garrison had an assistant principal at a school where there was prior review, prior to becoming the principal at McCallum.

“I didn’t want to see that started at McCallum,” she continued.” At the beginning of the year, I convinced him that I would let him know in advance if we were going to publish any controversial stories.”

However, when she told him about some of the stories that year, she said could tell by the expression on his face that he wasn’t so sure they should be covering them.

“Not once did he ask to see the stories beforehand or in any way try to censor them,” she said.

If Garrison ever had a question about a story after it was published, he would ask Moore about it, but she said he trusted her judgment as a professional.

“The best thing I can say about Mr. Garrison is that he lets me do my job,” Moore said. “If he walks into my room, I know it’s because he has a question or needs something. There is never any concern that he will try to tell me what to have my kids cover or how to cover it. He trusts me to do what I was hired to do, and because I had to deal with prior review at other schools where I worked, I can truly appreciate his trust.”

Mary Stites, co-editor-in-chief of The Shield, McCallum’s student newspaper, agrees.

“Mr. Garrison’s laid-back approach as a principal has made an environment that allows for us as staffers to cover what we desire, with his full support,” Stites said. “Covering controversial issues can often times lead to debate in classrooms and with parents, however, Mr. Garrison trusts the Shield staffers to cover the matters in an appropriate light.”

Stites says she hears horror stories of principals who insist on reading every page of the paper before it is sent to print.

“I could not imagine having such strict guidelines over coverage in the paper,” Stites said. “Knowing that we have the principal’s full support not only makes for a good, laid-back working environment, but brings a sense of comfort knowing that we have his utmost faith. Mr. Garrison’s support and enthusiasm has helped to shape the success of the Shield.”

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