VINTON–Aric Palazzola is not new to Roanoke County or William Byrd, just to his position at WBHS. He officially began work as Byrd’s newest assistant principal on July 1, replacing Dr. Paul Lineburg, who was named the Director of Administration for the county schools. Palazzola had been the Testing Coordinator at William Byrd.
He will be working with WBHS principal Dr. Richard Turner and assistant principal Nancy Chewning. His responsibilities include “a wide spectrum of duties handling our school’s supervision and evaluation of instruction, student discipline, testing requirements, approval of activities and building use, special education, and management of our school’s online presence.”
Palazzola was born in the Roanoke Valley and graduated from Cave Spring High School in 2002. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Technology Education from North Carolina State University in 2006, and his Master of Science Degree in Educational Leadership from Radford University in 2014.
His mother and three of his aunts are graduates of WBHS. His brother and many cousins have been through Roanoke County Schools.
“We are all very proud of our time in this school system and it was a major part of why I returned from North Carolina to work in Virginia,” said Palazzola.
He first joined Roanoke County Public Schools in 2007 as a Career and Technology Education teacher, serving both Hidden Valley Middle School and Cave Spring High School. In his third year, he switched to William Byrd Middle School and Cave Spring High School.
While in the classroom, he taught Darkroom Photography, Digital Photography, Woodshop, Engineering, and Architecture. In his fourth year, he became the Instructional Technology Resource Teacher (ITRT) at William Byrd High School. After four years as the ITRT, he was hired for the 2014-15 school year as the School Testing Coordinator.
Palazzola became an educator because, “I feel that I owe it to the educators that positively impacted my life and should give my time and career to education. I believe family and specifically our children are the foundation of our community and will determine all of our futures. I have always loved the positive impact education has had on my life by opening doors to experiences, relationships, and careers that I would not have had the opportunity to experience without.”
As for why he elected to move into administration, Palazzola said that he has had the opportunity to work in a number of schools and in various positions in Roanoke County in his career and has come to feel comfortable in leadership roles.
“Aric is an outstanding young administrator,” said Dr. Richard Turner, principal of WBHS. “He has distinguished himself here at Byrd first as our Instructional Resource Teacher working with our laptop initiative. Last year he became our testing coordinator and volunteered to do a number of administrative duties. His positive attitude, his ability to build positive relationships, and his work ethic helped him earn this position as our new assistant principal.”
Palazzola said he is excited to get back to interacting more with students in his new position. As assistant principal he will “float the halls” and be in the classrooms. He is also responsible for general coverage of athletic events so he will be visible to students in that capacity.
“I love sports and competition of all sorts,” said Palazzola. “I was a football and soccer coach when I started my career in education.”
With a Roanoke County discipline policy in place, there is little room for guesswork in dealing with student disciplinary issues these days, however Palazzola said that “at the secondary level students are still students, not adults.”
They are still in a formative stage and the job of educators is to “build, guide, and foster adults by helping them grow and make good choices.”
At age 31, he is hoping that he will be able to see things from the students’ perspective and that they will feel at ease with him.
This year William Byrd will expand its Building Positive Personal Relationships initiative begun in the 2014-2015 school year with an emphasis on being kind to one another. Many activities were scheduled last year based on the theme. Dr. Turner, Palazzola, and Chewning hope to continue the program with students and expand it among their staff and even into the community to encourage individuals to make a “conscious effort to be positive.”
Over the summer Roanoke County has re-designed and introduced a new website and social media Twitter and Facebook pages, all more user friendly and up-to-date. Palazzola played a significant role in those improvements.
His responsibilities don’t allow time for many hobbies and outside interests, but Palazzola does say that he was raised as a major “foodie” and loves to cook.
“While my mother and father cooked when I was younger, my brother has surpassed us all as a sous chef in San Francisco at a restaurant called Mourad,” said Palazzola.
His wife Caitlyn teaches at Wasena Elementary School in Roanoke City.