Q&A with Brian Kitts, Blacksburg High’s new principal
Family: Wife, Kim Kitts, teacher at Kipps Elementary School. His brother lives in California with a wife and three daughters. His dad and stepmother, Gary and Vickie Kitts, live in Christiansburg.
Education: Undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech in family and child development. Graduate degrees at Radford University in education curriculum instruction and administration and supervision K-12.
BLACKSBURG — It’s been seven years since Blacksburg High School welcomed a new school year with a new face leading the charge.
Brian Kitts, the school’s new principal, was hired in July after the school’s former principal, Michael Hurst, was reassigned to the school system’s central office.
The first day of school in Montgomery County is Tuesday.
Kitts brings with him experience as both a teacher and administrator in the Montgomery County School System. He most recently served as the assistant principal at Eastern Montgomery High School.
For Kitts, a life-changing experience in high school prompted him to dedicate his life’s work to helping children.
When he was just a junior, his mother was killed by his classmate.
“It was one of the most challenging times in my life, and it was something certainly you never want anyone to go through, but it’s created an opportunity,” Kitts said.
“It’s made me a better person, and it’s presented me with the ability to create and to do things and to work harder and to do more for students so that never happens again.”
In a recent interview with Kitts, the new principal spoke about the importance of instilling students with lessons they can carry beyond the classroom and the importance of forming strong relationships and working together.
“The teachers can’t do it all, and the parents can’t do it all,” Kitts said.
“If they can combine with the kids, and we can get the kids to really look out for one another and to take a vested interest in the success of each other, then we can create something that’s extremely powerful.”
Q: What would you say the “keys to success” are in public education in today’s world?
A: The first key is, you have to have a good curricular program in place. Curriculum is essential. You have to create kids for the future that they want to live and give them an opportunity to do what they want to do in life. That’s most important. Then you look at things like community. Building your athletic programs and building your sense of community and your activities and your programs that you offer for students so that it’s a comprehensive education, an opportunity for kids to come in addition to getting their education and really develop themselves holistically. I look at the climate and the character and the things we do to grow our kids and get them prepared for the future, because regardless of what we teach, the character values and the things we instill in them are the things they’re going to have with them the rest of their life.
Q: What is one thing you’re most proud of in your public education career?
A: I’m most proud of my relationships with families, students and teachers. I’m a hands-on administrator, and I was a hands-on teacher. I believe in listening to everybody and getting everybody’s input to make good decisions and form strong relationships with everybody I work with. I feel like that’s one of my strengths and certainly one of the things I’m most proud of. I think I’ve helped a lot of kids and helped a lot of folks along the way by really getting in there and doing the hard work.
Q: What is something you’re least proud of in your career, or a trying time when you had to overcome something?
A: I went through a unique situation my junior year of high school. … My mom was killed by a student in my class. I remember the assistant principal getting on the announcements and telling me at the funeral home that “today is a sad day for Glenvar High School.” I knew from that moment on that I would spend the rest of my life working with kids. … It was certainly a challenge and one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, things that I’ve ever been through my whole life. But it’s also a great opportunity. I went forward from that day knowing that I wanted to make the lives of kids better.
I never wanted the announcement to be made at a school. … I knew that I would spend the rest of my life working to create that with kids, an opportunity where we help kids make good choices. The teachers can’t do it all, and the parents can’t do it all. If they can combine with the kids, and we can get the kids to really look out for one another and to take a vested interest in the success of each other, then we can create something that’s extremely powerful. It was one of the most challenging times in my life, and it was something certainly you never want anyone to go through, but it’s created an opportunity. It’s made me a better person, and it’s presented me with the ability to create and to do things and to work harder and to do more for students so that never happens again.
Q: What attracted you to the BHS job?
A: I love Montgomery County. I’ve worked in all the strands except Auburn. This is my home. This is where I plan to live, grow up and retire. I’ve always loved public education. I believe it’s the last great institution left in America. I enjoy the work and I enjoy the opportunity. I was a principal of an elementary school, and then I went to an assistant principalship at a high school, and moving to another principalship in a high school is an opportunity for me to do more and to serve the community and the students in an even more involved capacity as a principal rather than being an assistant principal.
Q: What experiences or lessons will you carry over from your roles both as an assistant principal and principal?
A: I think you always grow, and you always learn. One thing I always tell people is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Each day on the job, you learn something new. In the first few days of this job, I’ve learned something new each day. I’ve done that throughout my career. I’m a continuous learner. I’m always looking for opportunities to grow and learn from others. I will continue to do that so I can continue to get better and better and to be able to serve the students, teachers and the community well.
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
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