Principal Carol Goddard will retire after 2022-23 school year after almost 50 years in education

Watkins+Mill+principal+Carol+Goddard+supports+many+student+groups+and+is+an+integral+part+of+the+school+community.

Ashley Huynh

Watkins Mill principal Carol Goddard supports many student groups and is an integral part of the school community.

Watkins Mill High School principal Carol Goddard will retire at the end of the 2022-23 school year, spending almost 50 years working in education and 30 years in Montgomery County Public Schools.

Goddard’s retirement comes with mixed emotions for the community, including herself.  “I love this place.  Love the kids.  Love what I do,” Goddard said.  She will miss the kids and staff, and “all the tight, tight friendships I’ve made in the professional world.”

“I am happy for Ms. Goddard to retire,” social studies teacher Lauren Squier said.  “I’m sure it was a very difficult choice for her to ‘hang up her pencils,’ but I’m excited for her to enjoy a new chapter in her life.”

“I can’t take all my money to the grave,” Goddard added. “It’s time for me to go have fun.  It’s time for me to go travel.  Next year this time, I’ll be in Africa.  I’ll be on the move.”

Goddard plans to visit the southern part of Africa with her wife, her sister-in-law, and her sister-in-law’s husband and engage in “all kinds of fun stuff there,” including safaris.

The biggest takeaway from Goddard’s half-century career in education is that “you can never be a person who is not a person of their word…It’s very important that you be yourself always and you be honest to a fault.”

English teacher Joye Saxon appreciates how Goddard is a “straight-shooter,” doesn’t make unnecessary announcements on the loudspeaker, and respects teachers’ time. Saxon, sponsor of the Minority Scholars Program (MSP) and Sisters in Success (SIS), especially appreciates Goddard for her support of student voices.

“I recall going to an MSP Retreat, getting off the bus with students, and the first person that they saw and that I saw was her,” Saxon said.  “And it was one year where she was the only principal that attended the MSP retreat, so things like that stick out in my mind.”

Goddard also continued with the tradition of a Principal’s Leadership Council (PLC), “so it just shows that she wants to hear student voice [and that] she cares about student voice,” Saxon added.

Squier is grateful for Goddard’s support in allowing the social studies department’s repertoire to grow, with new class additions like the LGBTQ+ studies class and the Hispanic or Latin America Culture elective.

“Both of these classes allow the growing diverse population at WM feel seen and included.” Squier said.  “Ms. Goddard is a huge supporter of making sure students see themselves in history.”

Goddard used to be a bodybuilder and began her education career as a physical education (PE) teacher, so sports and athletics have always been a constant in her life. As a result, teachers like Squier will miss Goddard’s ability to talk sports.

“At her roots, [Goddard’s] a PE teacher and female athlete,” Squier added.  “As a female athlete myself, Ms. Goddard could emphasize the importance of women in sports and how female athletes are vital.”

“After [I’ve been] at Watkins Mill for 19 years…[Ms. Goddard’s] been the only woman [principal] and I think women lead differently than men,” Saxon said.

Goddard has dedicated her years at Watkins Mill advocating for equity.  “We talk about equity a lot in this system. But there’s so many inequities still, and I’m the first one to speak out [against it],” Goddard said.

She is most proud of how Watkins Mill students have open access to every rigorous course in the building. “I am not a gatekeeper.  I don’t look at you and say, ‘Oh, because you’re this, you can’t do that,’ ” Goddard added.  “Everybody has open access. So much so [that we say,] ‘Try it. Try it…You don’t have to be brilliant, you just have to have the grit.’ ”

According to Squier, Goddard “focused on the brand of Watkins Mill and would strive to highlight the great things happening in our community.  In her years here, she would understand that WM has its challenges, but there are so many great things at Watkins Mill.”

Goddard hopes that if there’s anything the school community has absorbed from her, it’s that they should “always, always, always, always stop to listen.”

Goddard’s actions reflect her advice. Saxon mentions how Goddard is always willing to have a conversation.  “I had a conversation with her today, like her door is always open,” Saxon said.

“Before you make any judgments, listen, listen to what everybody has to say. And then you may not agree with it all, but listening is an incredible skill that people need to have,” Goddard added.

Goddard officially retires on October 1, but her last day in the Watkins Mill High School building will be June 30, 2023.  On July 1, 2023—the first day of the new school year—she will work in Central Office with directors and associates to mentor and support new principals.

Watkins Mill’s new principal will begin working at the start of the 2023-24 school year.

Saxon thinks that the new principal should have strong leadership and interpersonal skills, be able to interact with staff and students, and be “someone that is a person of respect [and who] can be respected.”

Goddard does not get any say in who becomes the new principal.  The system sends out a survey to gather information on what the community wants to see in its next principal.

“You and everybody in this community should fill out that survey,” Goddard said. The top three candidates for the position will see and need to be able to talk towards the information collected from the survey.

Squier hopes the new principal reflects Watkins Mill’s student population.  “The new principal should be as vibrant as the [Watkins Mill] community is,” Squier said.  “I am also hoping the new principal continues to highlight our amazing school and community.”

“To me, the principal’s job is to be a good instructional leader and to remember…that they are the principal of everyone, of every student that enters into this building—regardless of their path or the program that they’re in,” Saxon said.

In Goddard’s time at Watkins Mill, she hasn’t “judged kids as they come into the building…I love all the kids and everybody has their own kind of way they carry themselves…and I respect that,” Goddard said.  “I hope the next principal respects every kid for who they are and what they bring to the table.”

Goddard will cherish all of her memories at Watkins Mill for the rest of her life.  Some of her favorite memories include, “each senior night, each African Ball, each play, each game I go to, walking the halls every day, talking to kids standing in the mixing bowl, standing at the front door every day.”  But in reality, “there’s too many.”

Ultimately, the Watkins Mill community approaches this new change with a positive outlook.

“I am excited for a new change,” Squier added.  “I wish Ms. Goddard all the best in her new chapter, but one should not be afraid of change.”

“Change is hard, but change is necessary and change can be positive,” Saxon said.

“I’m out,” Goddard said.  “But not until June 30.”

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