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Principals named for Western Albemarle, Meriwether Lewis

The Albemarle County School Board appointed two new principals following a closed meeting Wednesday.

Jennifer Sublette, the division’s director of professional learning, will become principal of Western Albemarle High School. Jennifer Underwood, an assistant principal at Woodbrook Elementary, will take over at Meriwether Lewis Elementary.

Sublette has been leading the division’s learning recovery efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, among other initiatives. She has served in other leadership roles in the county school system since she started teaching at Western in 2002, including as the lead coach for social studies curriculum, instruction and assessment and as an assistant principal at Western.

“It has been my honor to be a member of our community and school for several decades,” Sublette said in a message to the WAHS community. “Throughout the years, I have appreciated the contributions of our students, faculty, families and greater community in building that tradition of excellence. I continue to be impressed by the high expectations you each set and I am confident that, with your continued engagement, the years ahead will be an extraordinary time in our school community’s legacy.”

Sublette is taking over for Jason Lee, who left the top post at Western after one year to become supervisor of facilities, safety and operations in Charlottesville City Schools.

At Meriwether Lewis, Underwood is taking over for Michael Irani, who has led the school since 2014. Irani is moving to Agnor-Hurt Elementary to become that school’s principal. Agnor-Hurt’s principal, Doug Granger, transferred to Western to become an assistant principal there.

Underwood has worked at Woodbrook for three years and was previously an assistant principal at Meriwether Lewis. She started teaching in the county school system in 2003.

One of her immediate goals at Meriwether Lewis will be to build greater synergies among all grade levels, she said in the release.

“My time as an instructional coach taught me the power of sharing best practices and putting together collaborative projects that yielded powerful learning experiences,” Underwood said. “I’d like to create more of these opportunities for our team and to continue to benefit from the passions our parents bring to their support for all of our students.”

Daphne Keiser, director of educator quality for Albemarle County Public Schools, said families and staff at both schools played an important role in selecting the new principals. They weighed in via surveys and through interview panels.

“We were fortunate to have so many outstanding candidates,” Keiser said in the release. “Both Ms. Sublette and Ms. Underwood were highly impressive in the passion they showed for their schools and in their optimism for the future, especially following such a challenging year for our learners.”


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