Salem School Division Superintendent, Dr. Alan Seibert, is pleased to announce that the Salem School Board has formally approved Dr. Forest Jones to join the Central Office staff as Director of Administrative Services, effective July 1, 2017. Jones will replace Assistant Superintendent, Mike Bryant, who is leaving his position at the end of June. Bryant has served Salem’s children for over 30 years as a principal and administrator and he invested a total of 45 years in public education in the Roanoke Valley.
“I am humbled to be chosen for this position, and to follow in Mr. Bryant’s footsteps is an incredible honor,” says Jones. “Giving back to the school system and the city that helped shape me is something you dream about accomplishing. This new position will allow me to continue giving back, and now I will be able to interact with the students and staff members at all six of our schools.”
Jones has been the principal at Andrew Lewis Middle School since 2012, and the school received the prestigious “Virginia School to Watch” honor by the state Department of Education during his time in charge. After graduating from Salem High School, Jones received his Bachelor’s degree in Education and History from Roanoke College. He later achieved his Master’s from Hollins University, his K-12 Administration degree from Radford University and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech.
You could easily argue that Jones was born to be an educator. His mom, Betty, taught elementary school for 40 years and before his dad served as Salem’s City Manager from 2000 to 2008, the elder Forest Jones spent the majority of his career as an educator, coach and administrator in Campbell and Bedford counties.
“I have been a student, teacher and administrator at Andrew Lewis for 25 years,” says Jones. “I will always treasure the relationships that I’ve been able to cultivate with our students while teaching and coaching. In addition, the support and professionalism exhibited by my co-workers during this time are also responsible for making me a better leader and a better person.”
One of those supportive staff members will be stepping-up to become Andrew Lewis Middle School’s new principal. Jamie Garst, another Salem High School graduate, will begin his new job on July 1, as well. Garst has been an assistant principal at Andrew Lewis since 2013, and board members formally approved his promotion during the closed session portion of Tuesday night’s meeting.
“I hope to provide the wonderful opportunities to children that were afforded me when I was a student,” says Garst. “Dr. Seibert was my science teacher when I was a ninth grader at Salem High School and I greatly appreciate the way that both he and Dr. Jones have mentored me over the years.”
Garst earned his Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry in 2003 from Virginia Tech and later acquired his Masters’ degrees in biochemistry and curriculum and instruction from Tech. He also has a Master’s degree in educational leadership from Radford University. He and his wife, Sarah, reside in Salem and the couple is expecting their third child later this year.
“It is always rewarding to see your former students mature, achieve and embrace the importance of helping children,” says Seibert. “Both Mr. Garst and Mr. Jones understand the significance of not only finding individualized ways to ensure that students excel, but most importantly, what it means to give back to their community.”