Buff GA Principal of Year

Newton County Leaders Celebrate Dr. Shannon Buff, Georgia’s Principal of the Year
Posted on 04/30/2024
Dr. Shannon BuffThe past sixty days have been nothing short of a whirlwind for Newton High School principal, Dr. Shannon Buff. On March 5, 2024, she was surprised at school with the news that she was Georgia’s 2024 Principal of the Year. Since then, she has been celebrated from Covington to the Gold Dome in Atlanta as students and staff, community members, and elected officials have all paid tribute to the woman who will now represent Georgia in the National Principal of the Year program.

“I’m honored. I am humbled. To me this award is not about me, it’s about Newton High School,” said Buff the day of the surprise. “I think there are a lot of times when schools like Newton get overlooked and passed over for things they shouldn’t because we have an amazing group of students—an amazing group of faculty and staff and they deserve to be lauded for things like this.”

Following that momentous day, her family—both work and home—have celebrated her incredible accomplishment. Yet, the accolades haven't ceased. Community leaders and elected officials have also praised Georgia’s Principal of the Year. In fact, Newton County’s legislative delegation honored Buff at the Gold Dome recently with a special resolution.

In reflecting on Dr. Buff’s recognition, Senator Brian Strickland remarked on its significance for the entire Newton County community.
“Dr. Buff’s recognition is so important for us in Newton County and also everyone in the state because she is such a great example of what it means to be an all-around principal not just a principal for staff at a school but also for students,” he said. “And the numbers show that. We see the test scores for students going up. We see more student success at Newton High School. We see all the scholarships students are being offered and all these numbers going up. But also, we see that people want to work for her. Staff loves her as well. And we see the retention rate going up for teachers there…. So many people can learn from her around our state and our country as to what it means to be an all-around great principal that does what’s best not just for teachers and staff but for students.”

Marcello Banes, Chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners, also emphasized Buff's profound impact on the local community.

“To have someone with Dr. Buff’s leadership here in our community is amazing. And I do say, ‘wow’ because it’s unbelievable how much she’s touched the hearts of people here in this community. From the students that graduate and go on to college, to the ones that go on to technical schools or join the military or the ones that say, ‘Hey I’m going to graduate and join the work force’ or the ones that say, ‘Hey I’m going to start a family.’ They come here and they are outstanding citizens. It’s because of that seed she sows with her students. It’s unbelievable the outcome that we see because of her talent, the love, and the passion that she has for her students. I’m just thankful that we have someone like Dr. Buff in this community.”

Debbie Harper, president of the Newton County Chamber of Commerce, sees Dr. Buff’s award as a reflection of the community’s commitment to education and the positive direction the county is heading.

She said, “Beyond the excitement, it really shows where Newton County is headed. The commitment by the community to our schools, to our students and it’s just exciting. We had the Superintendent of the Year a few years ago and now the High School Principal of the Year, we’re just really headed in a great direction and excited for Newton County.”

Shakila Henderson-Baker, vice-chair of the Newton County Board of Education, echoed the sentiment of the award's importance for Newton High School and the Newton County School System.
“It means a lot for us to have Dr. Buff and especially Newton High School, the principal of Newton High School, be the Principal of the Year. Here is why,” she explained. “I remember at one point Newton High School received a lot of negative attention and what does that say now. It is evident that they have some great things going on. See we remember the bad news, but most people don’t talk about the good news. And this is good news. And good news always overshadows that bad news. So, under her leadership I expect to continue to see more great things come from it. With this title, I expect to see her gain relationships with people from legislators to people across the state. Newton High School will be recognized for what it is. Go Rams!”

According to Dr. Duke Bradley, III, Superintendent of the Newton County School System, Dr. Buff's leadership qualities are exemplary.
“Dr. Buff, as you can imagine, has an incredible passion for kids, incredible enthusiasm, a love for people, and more than anything she loves Newton High School,” he noted. “It is infectious. It is a part of her leadership model and I think these are the kind things that are so vitally important for all of our schools and all of our leaders to model this kind of leadership that she exemplifies.”

As the celebrations begin to wind down, Dr. Buff looks ahead to representing not only her local school community but the entire state of Georgia in the National Principal of the Year program. She is excited about the opportunity to advocate for public education and showcase the daily work and dedication of educators.

“I am excited about that,” she said. “At a time when public education seems to be attacked from all fronts, given the opportunity to have a platform to speak about what is actually done in schools—the work that goes on each and every day, the staff members that love kids and literally take the shirts off their back to give to the students. I’m excited about able to advocate and to represent the state of Georgia at the national level.”