Scott Elliott, Phil Norman, Candace Norman, Carolina Norman

Superintendent Scott Elliott (left) congratulates Phil Norman (second from left) for being named the new principal at Hardin Park. Also photographed: wife Candace Norman and daughter Carolina Norman.

BOONE — The Watauga County Board of Education voted unanimously on June 10 to appoint Phil Norman principal of Hardin Park School, according to Watauga County Schools.

Norman is set to take the job at Hardin Park after an extensive interview and vetting process led by Superintendent Scott Elliott. The process is designed to evaluate candidates for administrative roles in the district.

The hiring process began with a stakeholder survey in which teachers, parents, students and community members were given the opportunity to express traits they’d like to see in a leader at their school. Hardin Park’s survey received 416 public responses.

Norman, who has served as principal of Green Valley School for the past five years, was chosen after a four-round interview process with an interview committee of 30 people and a one-on-one interview with Elliott.

Elliott said Hardin Park — Watauga’s largest K-8 school — required a skilled and experienced candidate to lead effectively.

“Hardin Park is an extraordinary school community with a strong faculty, diverse student body and supportive parents who all have very high expectations for a leader,” Elliott said. “Hardin Park prides itself on its many forms of diversity, and how that diversity makes the school stronger for all its students. A school the size of Hardin Park is a very complex environment to lead and manage. It requires a leader with a wide range of skills. Phil Norman has proven through his experience that he has the right traits and skills to lead Hardin Park.”

Elliott said feedback from the interview committee indicated clearly that Norman was the right fit to lead and support the school in the future.

For Norman, taking the position at Hardin Park will represent a return to the school. He started his tenure with Watauga County Schools in 2005 as an assistant principal, where he served for eight years under the leadership of outgoing Principal Mary Smalling.

“I am truly honored and excited by the opportunity to serve and lead the Hardin Park community,” Norman said. “I have a strong connection to the school. I worked as an administrator under Mrs. Smalling's leadership and both my children attended Hardin Park. I am looking forward to how Hardin Park students, staff and I can grow together to make an already great school even better.”

Norman thanked his colleagues at Green Valley for their hard work and dedication during his time at the school.

“Being the principal at Green Valley and working with the amazing staff and students there has been a privilege and a pleasure,” Norman said. “Green Valley is truly a special place. It is such a supportive, caring and generous community that has had an immeasurable impact in my life. I have had an amazing time and will greatly miss seeing everyone on a day-to-day basis.”

Norman earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree in school administration from North Carolina State University. Before beginning his career in public education, Norman spent eight years as an aviator in the United States Navy.

Norman worked in various teaching roles in San Diego City Schools and Wake County Schools before coming to Watauga in 2005 to serve as an assistant principal at Hardin Park School. Norman has served as the principal of Green Valley School since 2014.

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