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School Board announces new superintendent

Mark Garrett Mark Garrett

Mark Garrett will succeed Dr. John Bryant as Henderson County Public Schools’ seventh superintendent, effective July 1, the Henderson County Board of Public Education announced Thursday during a special called board meeting.
Garrett is the Superintendent of McDowell County Schools in Marion, where he has served since 2013. During his tenure, McDowell has experienced its highest graduation rates, lowest dropout rates, and lowest teacher turnover rates in district history, and exceptional academic growth. 

“We are thrilled to have someone with such an exceptional level of experience choose to lead in Henderson County,” said School Board Chair Blair Craven. “We welcome Mr. Garrett into the HCPS Family, and are excited to see how his expertise in public K-12 leadership will continue strengthening our already esteemed school communities.” 
The hiring of Garrett marks the first time Stephen Page was hired from Buncombe County in 2004 that the School Board has brought in a new leader from outside. After Page, the board had voted three times to elevate the second-in-command administrator to the top job — David Jones, Bo Caldwell and John Bryant.

As superintendent of the McDowell County school system, Garrett restructured McDowell’s grade-level composition from K-6, 7-9, 10-12 to K-5, 6-8, 9-12, which involved a two-year plan relocating staff and students and reconfiguring every bus route in the county. His work launching a telemedicine program for McDowell students while in school earned Garrett the School Based Health Alliance N.C. Superintendent of the Year award in 2015. 

During the 2016-2017 school year, Garrett oversaw the creation of a STEM magnet middle school – which has been named an ICLE National Model School and NC STEM School of Distinction – and opened a career-focused innovative high school in 2018-2019. Garrett also secured a $15 million grant to offset the $20 million cost of upgrading an elementary school from the 1930s; the new Old Fort Elementary School was completed and opened during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Under Garrett’s leadership this school year, the school system launched McDowell Virtual Academy for grades K-12, implemented Universal Pre-K, and secured Safe Schools Grants to fund school resource officers at every McDowell campus. 

Garrett is also the 2021 Western Region Superintendent of the Year and a finalist for the 2021 North Carolina A. Craig Phillips Superintendent of the Year award, given in conjunction with the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA), the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA) and the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA). Garrett is also proud to have mentored three Regional Principals of the Year during his tenure at MCS.  

Garrett has a rich history in public education. After earning his Bachelor of Arts in history from Tusculum College in 1995, Garrett taught history for five years at Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson City, Tenn. He relocated to North Carolina in 2001, serving Watauga County schools as Watauga High School’s assistant principal for a year. In 2002, he became principal of Valle Crucis School, where he served for two years before moving to Avery County Schools. From 2004-2012, Garrett served as principal at Avery County High School, then was named assistant superintendent in McDowell County in 2012.

An advocate for public education statewide, Garrett serves on the McDowell Technical Community College Board of Trustees, North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors, Western North Carolina Regional Education Foundation Board of Directors, WRESA Superintendent’s Council (as both a member and former chair), and myFutureNC Advisory Board of Commissioners. He was also formerly selected to serve on the NC Governor’s Superintendent Advisory Council, appointed to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Task Force on Teacher Recruitment, Credentialing & Retention, and is a former member of the Board of Directors for both the McDowell County Health Coalition and the Corpening Memorial YMCA.

“I am humbled and excited for the opportunity to serve the students, staff and families of Henderson County Public Schools,”  Garrett said. “Working together, we will build on the district’s tradition of excellence and propel HCPS to even greater heights by being student-centered, mission driven, and future focused.  My family and I look forward to joining such an outstanding school district and the Henderson County community."

Garrett holds a masters in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Tennessee and is the proud husband of Alison Garrett, and father of Tatum, Aubrey and Luke. 




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