By Rebekah Martin
Opelika High School principal Dr. Farrell Seymore was recently named ‘Secondary Principal of the Year’ by the Alabama Association of Secondary Principals.
Seymore, who is nearing the end of his fourth year in his position, is an Auburn graduate and has also worked at Opelika Middle School. He began his tenure as a science and language arts teacher in 1997 and later became principal there before coming to OHS in 2011.
Seymore said he feels honored by this award but was quick to mention that there are many others who are deserving of the recognition and praise.
“This is a shared award,” Seymore said. “We are really a team here at OHS, and this award reflects that.”
Seymore credits superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors with getting him excited about pursing a career in school leadership. Neighbors was the principal at OMS during part of Seymore’s time there.
“He understands the importance of school culture and investing in people,” Seymore said. Witnessing Dr. Neighbors create a school culture that focused on student learning was one thing that set him on the administrative path, Seymore said.
The mission of OHS is to “educate every child every day,” and Seymore said he believes they are living up to it in full.
“I want to make sure I put the best possible teacher in the classroom, give them the tools they need to be successful and then let them be successful. I generally don’t micromanage – I trust that we’ve hired the best and trust them to be the best,” he said.
Seymore said he was a successful student, so becoming an educator was not much of a stretch.
“I love learning and being in the classroom,” Seymore said. “My philosophy is to establish a culture where student learning is the key and where students have such a positive experience that they want to continue in their lifelong learning goals. Learning shouldn’t end in the 12th grade at Opelika High School. It should be a spark that will go with you throughout life.”
One thing Seymore said he believes contributed to him receiving this honor is the success OHS has seen in recent years. The school reported a 93 percent graduation rate last year – a rate higher than the state average. There has also been a drastic increase in students who are enrolling in Advanced Placement courses – the number has tripled over the last four years.
“That only happens when you have strong, qualified teachers who challenge students at the highest level,” Seymore said. “We also have a very strong guidance department who try to encourage kids to take those classes. We don’t want a path of least resistance.”
Seymore praised the teachers and staff as well as his team of assistant principals who he said have made this honor possible. Seymore said Amanda Inabinett, Russ Hardwick and Kendrick Myers, as well as Katie Murray, the instructional resource teacher at OHS have worked hard to make OHS what it is.
Seymore mentioned OHS has had success in academics as well as the arts and athletics in recent years. “Those programs and their success have little to do with me and a lot to do with strong teachers in their respective fields.”