Darah Bonham, an educator with over 20 years of experience, will become the 12th principal of Western Albemarle High School effective July 1.

“Darah is an exact fit with what the Western community told us they were looking for in a new principal, an outstanding educator with a deep knowledge of instructional excellence,” said Matt Haas, assistant superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, who noted that the community-based review panel selected Bonham unanimously.

Previously, Bonham directed student activities for W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax County, served as lead administrator for the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center and most recently as the associate principal of Monticello High School.

Haas said Bonham’s experience with innovative programming — such as Monticello High’s Learning Commons — and building community partnerships will make an immediate impact.

Western Albemarle is also home to the new Environmental Studies Academy, the quick growth of which has impressed the principal-to-be.

“It will have a vital role in opening many more new doors of opportunity for our students and in our communities,” Bonham said.

A graduate of James Madison University and George Mason University, Bonham hopes to enable Western’s teachers, staff and students to thrive.

“The first rule for me is a simple one — to get to know the Western community firsthand and to make that conversation an ongoing one,” Bonham said. “That’s the only way to get to know what works or needs to change and to understand how I can support what our teachers and students need and what our parents desire.”

Bonham will replace John Werner, who is leaving to be closer to family in Illinois.