Tennessee Association of Secondary School Principals recently chose Hardin Valley Academy Principal Dr. Rob Speas as East Tennessee Principal of the Year.
“I feel very humbled that some of my peers would nominate me for that position,” Speas said. “I don’t know if it’s justified, necessarily, but it feels good to get a pat on the back.”
He was quick to credit his faculty and staff at HVA.
“It’s not something I do on my own,” Speas said. “We work here as a team at Hardin Valley, with our assistant principals, our staff and our teachers.
“I feel like it’s more recognition for the school as a whole than it is for me as an individual.”
He said the East Tennessee Principal of the Year designation tells him “people recognize the work that we do here at Hardin Valley and they see we are doing some good things.
“The last few years have been some, obviously, tough times for all of us, especially here in education, so I think it recognizes that we made some strides to try and grow our school culture and improve the student experience here at Hardin Valley Academy.”
Speas learned about the award March 21 when he received a phone call from Dr. Chad Smith, one of the board members of TNASSP.
“I was, first of all, just surprised that I was selected,” he recalled. “There are a lot of great principals in East Tennessee … then just appreciative of my colleagues for recognizing me and the team at Hardin Valley.”
Speas, who has been principal at HVA for three years, has been in education for 23 years. This marks his 10th year as a principal.
Before joining HVA, he was principal of Fulton High School for seven years. Previously, he served as assistant principal at L&M STEM Academy and Austin-East High School. He also previously taught science at Austin-East High School and Oak Ridge High School.
“The thing I like most about Hardin Valley is that we’re such a large school that we work really hard to try to find a community for every one of our students,” Speas said. “It’s important, ... to find individuals you can connect with and share the same likes and interests.
“We have a lot of extracurriculars,” he added. “Just last weekend, we had people winning competitions — marching band, robotics, athletics and Technology Student Association.
“We strive to be a triple A school — great in athletics, great in academics and great in the arts.”