Oneonta High School’s new principal has been there before



On July 2, the Oneonta City Board of Education hired Joseph (Joe) Whited (pictured at right), 30, a 2006 graduate of Oneonta High School, to be it’s new principal. He replaces Lauren Wilson, who took a job as academic accountability coordinator for the school district.

Whited comes to Oneonta High School from his previous job as principal of Cleveland Elementary School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Athens State University and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Jacksonville State University.

Prior to his Cleveland job, he served as head football coach and health/physical education instructor – and later as assistant principal – at Appalachian School. His first teaching job was at Locust Fork High School where he taught computer applications and PE.

In a conversation with The Blount Countian, Whited said that the main difference in his new job as high school principal and the previous one as elementary school principal is overseeing the athletics department and all that entails, including attending games and associated events.

“The same thing applies to arts-related scheduled instruction – band, music, art, drama, clubs, along with all the extracurricular activities,” he said. “The good news is that there are three principals here, including Lauren Wilson who sat in this seat immediately before me, who I can consult for their support. Three other principals – that’s a lot of years of support.”

He said an area that he will concentrate his attention is academics, student data, test scores and related matters. “Obviously, there’s nothing broken here,” he said. “The school has undergone tremendous growth under Mrs. Wilson in ACT and Advanced Placement scores, so my job will be continuous improvement, continuing to raise the bar in academics.”

What does he look forward to most eagerly? He answered with enthusiasm: “Returning to the place that did so much for me – the teachers, faculty, and coaches who played such an important role for me and other students. I want to live my life as well to set an example to students, and try to be a servant leader to the staff, faculty, and community. God has blessed my family and my life, and I’m humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to give back.”

Joe is married to Kaylee (Willingham) Whited, also of Oneonta and also an Oneonta High School graduate. They have two children: Brandon Neal, 7, enrolled in second grade at Oneonta Elementary School, and Anne Marie, 3, attending pre-school at Lester Memorial United Methodist Church.

At the end of the session, Whited addressed parents directly: “If someone needs to come speak to me, I encourage them to do so. I have children of my own and I understand. I’ll try to help however I can.”