Albemarle County Public Schools has named Michael Irani as the new principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School. Irani replaces former principal Kim Cousins, who resigned for personal reasons in January.
A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Middlebury College, and the University of Virginia, Irani, who will begin his tenure on May 1, said his first priority will be getting to know the community by “learning about what it is they value about Meriwether.”
Then, Irani said, he plans to honor the school’s success.
“It has a tremendous history, and what I want to do more than anything else is take all of the successes that they have had in the past and use that as a building block for what’s next for our kids,” Irani said.
Irani’s prior experience includes a four-year stint as Charlottesville High School’s assistant principal.
Currently, he is the assistant principal at Cale Elementary School, which plays home to a nearly 30 percent limited English proficiency rate and innovative Spanish language instruction program.
However, despite the task of serving a student population with different needs at Meriwether, Irani said good teaching is good teaching.
“You certainly organize things to meet their needs, but when you look at the instruction that leads to the results that you want…you’re going to see a lot of similarities,” Irani said, citing hands-on learning and teachers emphasizing higher-order thinking skills.
“One thing that I hold dear is that while students might come from different backgrounds, every parent wants the same thing, and any leader of a school needs to keep that in mind,” Irani said.
During the principal search, the Meriwether community noted in a survey that the three most important qualities they wanted in the new hire were that he or she be an outstanding educator, communicator, and character builder.
The division’s leaders are confident Irani is the right fit for the job.
“Under the outstanding leadership of Lisa Jones, Cale’s principal, and with strong contributions from Mike, Cale Elementary School has been an outstanding performer for children,” Albemarle’s Assistant Superintendent Matt Haas said. “Mike’s educational qualifications and experience will be an excellent fit at Meriwether Lewis.”
Irani will be sharing duties between Cale and Meriwether Lewis over the next several weeks.
“I know the Meriwether Lewis community and everyone in our school division is deeply appreciative of the contributions of Karen Marcus and Brandi Robertson, the school’s assistant principal, during this transitional period,” Haas said. “They have kept a very high performing school moving forward without pause.”
Last year, Meriwether was named a National Blue Ribbon School by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes K-12 public and private schools that demonstrate high academic performance or significant gains in student achievement.
“It is a rare privilege to be an educator,” Irani said. “As a parent of two children, I easily can connect with the trust that parents place in us to care for the most important part of their lives when they send their children to school every morning.”