Angela Garrett has spent the last 32 years waking up each morning to travel down Trammell Street to Westwood School. But in a few weeks, she’ll make the short trip one last time. Ms. Garrett has announced her retirement from Dalton Public Schools effective June 30.
Ms. Garrett says while retirement was in the back of her mind for next year, the opportunity to retire but continue to work in education was too good to turn down. She has accepted a position with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and although I’m torn about having to leave so suddenly, I’m thrilled at this new chapter in my life. Working at Westwood for the past 32 years has been such a blessing,” Ms. Garrett said. “The past 13 years as principal have been nothing but wonderful. I love this school and all of our staff members. We are a family that has the privilege of coming here each day to work. It’s not a job—it’s a passion, a calling for everyone here.”
“While I will miss working with Angela as part of our administrative team, I am excited for her personally,” said Dr. Jim Hawkins, superintendent of Dalton Public Schools. “I’m happy that Angela’s influence will continue to be felt in education as she has a strong passion for teaching and learning. Her leadership and commitment to excellence has been a constant at Westwood, and I know she will be greatly missed by her colleagues and staff as well as the Westwood community.”
Ms. Garrett says her greatest accomplishment is seeing the school transform into a learning community. “It’s different here due to years of work by our staff where small changes lead to bigger ones. We work every day to improve and make Westwood a better school. Since 2001, we have continually worked to transform our staff and our mindset about what learning is really about and how we can best offer quality to our children.” Ms. Garrett added that the work is never-ending, but it is enjoyable and valuable. “Most of our staff have this learning and understanding bone deep. It has made a difference in how we think about school.”
Ms. Garrett says she’ll miss the interactions with her students, parents and staff. “School is all about the children, and I will miss their smiling faces and funny sayings,” Ms. Garrett said. “I will also miss our parents who are very supportive and pitch in and help us when they can. My staff, that has been such a joy over the years, will be missed the most. They are why this job has been so much fun and so rewarding. A staff like ours is rare, and it’s been an honor being their leader.“
Ms. Garrett was named a Georgia Distinguished Principal for District 7 in 2008 by the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals. She is a member of the PAGE Principals Leadership Academy, president-elect for GAESP, and a District 16 GAESP past president. She serves on the Women’s Leadership Council for United Way and on the board of directors for Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Ms. Garrett started as a speech therapist at Westwood in 1982 after having worked as an itinerant speech therapist for Dalton Public Schools for two years. She moved into administration as assistant principal at Westwood in 1999 and, became principal in 2001. She started her career in Whitfield County but two years later, took her first job in Dalton.
The district will begin the process for choosing Ms. Garrett’s replacement immediately.