Even with nearing her 10th year as principal at Oak Grove High School, Helen Price didn’t necessarily expect any new awards or recognitions to come her way.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise to Price when she recently received a call from Ronnie McGehee, who serves as executive director of the Mississippi Association of Secondary School Principals, informing her that she had been chosen as the 2021 MASSP High School Principal of the Year. The award was presented to price at the organization’s annual conference, which was held in June in Flowood.
“I’m very humbled, and I’m excited about the award and the opportunity that it gives me in the year ahead,” Price said. “It’s the hard work of our teachers, administration and families that definitely contributes to the award, and I appreciate the district that we work in, the school that we’re in and the community we serve.”
The MASSP was created in the late 1960s to further the growth and development of secondary school principals in Mississippi by providing them with the resources and tools necessary to build leadership skills. The High School Principal of the Year Award is given annually to one high school principal in each of the 50 states of the country, based on nominations and votes from association members.
As part of the award, Price will travel in September to Washington, D.C. with the 49 other award winners to attend a Principal Institute.
“I’m excited about that,” Price said. “And I’ll have opportunities throughout the year to speak to organizations and groups about educational leadership, so I look forward to those opportunities as well.
“I look forward to meeting the other state awardees, and what I might can glean from them to bring back to our district and Oak Grove High School, to continue to improve our opportunity to educate students. I hope to get some good ideas - that’s what we do in education, is get good ideas from each other, and implement them and make them our own for the benefit of our students and faculty.”
Price earned a Bachelor’s of Social and Rehabilitation Services from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Master’s of Counseling Psychology and a Master’s of Guidance and Counseling from Mississippi College, a Technology in Education degree from William Carey University, and a Leadership in Special Problems degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has served as a social worker and school counselor at North Pike Elementary/Middle Schools, a school counselor at South Pike Middle School, a nationally certified school counselor at McComb Junior High School, and a nationally certified school counselor at Harrison Central High School.
Price came to Oak Grove High School in 2004 and served as assistant principal and head counselor before being named principal.
“We’ve been an A-rated school (from the Mississippi Department of Education) the whole time that I’ve been principal,” she said. “So that’s pretty cool too."
Price's awards and recognitions include, but are not limited to, the Lamar County School District Administrator of the Year, the National Federation of High Schools National Performing Arts Award, the Humanitarian and Leadership Award, and the Special Recognition Award from the Mississippi Counseling Association. She is a Mississippi College Distinguished Alumna, a certified Ruby Payne Trainer, the former president of the Mississippi Counseling Association, and a former Pathways to Success Trainer.
“I just love (education),” Price said. “Especially at high school, it never stops, and it’s full of challenges and excitement.
“The people that pour themselves into this type of work make all the difference, and you love being around them, and you love seeing the light bulb going off for the students and making that difference in their lives. So we trust that we’re pouring our lives out to make a difference in the students’ lives, to carry the torch for the next generation. We trust that’s what all this work is doing, for the benefit of them and their families as well.”