Wasdin looks to lead SA to become gold standard

Published 12:13 pm Saturday, August 2, 2014

Scott Wasdin is the headmaster of Southampton  Academy. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Scott Wasdin is the headmaster of Southampton

COURTLAND—When newly named Southampton Academy Headmaster Scott Wasdin came to Courtland for his final interview in November, he was nervous for multiple reasons.

“My wife was 9 months pregnant as I came up,” he said of Crystal, who was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time mom of now three boys under the age of 4.

“To say it was a tense moment is an understatement.”

But it all worked out, and Wasdin was brought on staff in January as the headmaster-elect, to take over upon the retirement of Dr. Mercer Neale. He’s definitely enjoyed it here.

“It has completely exceeded my expectations,” Wasdin said. “I have found the people of Southampton County to be generous, supportive and very committed to making our academics a standard for college preparation.”

Coming in as the headmaster-elect was also a blessing, as he was able to benefit from a built-in mentor.

“Dr. Neale has been a wonderful friend and a mentoring voice to help me get my feet on the ground and understand the culture and history at Southampton Academy,” he said. “I certainly wish him all the best as his successor, and also as a friend, in his retirement.”

As a former coach of sports including basketball, Wasdin was also happy to see the athletic tradition at Southampton Academy.

“Coach [Dale] Marks does a wonderful job with football, and during my first semester here, having both the baseball and softball teams play for a state title was remarkable,” he said. “Both basketball teams also made states, and that’s saying something for our area.”

The student body itself also made a good first impression on Wasdin.

“I’m excited about partnering with the most amazing student body I have been blessed to teach and work with in 22 years,” he said. “My expectations for SA grads changing our planet are remarkably high.

“Their sense of teamwork, work ethic and the quality of their character stands out.”

Wasdin will also be the upper and middle school principal, as well as the director of development and college counselor. He’ll have two assistant heads of school. Faith Best will help out with the lower school, and Dale Marks will be the assistant head for athletics.

The product of a public school west of Atlanta, Georgia, Wasdin’s path toward private and faith-based school leadership started in college.

He did his undergraduate work at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia, in religious studies with an emphasis on education. And going to graduate school at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, he had thought that perhaps he was going to be a pastor, but then something changed.

“It was probably in my second week of grad school — a class on educational administration,” Wasdin said. “The lecture was on the nuances and challenges of school administration, and I knew in my heart that was where I wanted to be. I felt a sense of calling during that lecture.”

Private education felt like a logical progression as far as where he should personally be.

“I just fell in love with it,” he said. “I am the product of a public school, so I didn’t have a natural disposition to it, but professionally, it has been my heart and soul. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

That said, Wasdin is ready to work with the public schools of the area.

“I look forward to getting to know the principals and superintendents in the area,” he said. “I look forward to a healthy partnership. A community poised for growth will see the public and private schools growing and engaged with one another.”

Before coming to SA, Wasdin had most immediately worked at Oak Mountain Academy in Carrollton, Georgia, as the upper school dean and the director of college counseling and development.

“A lady I worked with at Oak Mountain had previously been the headmaster at Hampton Roads Academy, and she liked the area and felt like it would be a good opportunity for me as a prospective headmaster,” he said.

Like Paula Gillispie, who is the head of school at Oak Mountain, he has also enjoyed the area.

“I’m very pleased that my first instincts on the Southampton County area have been good,” he said. “This is a great place to raise a family.”

The school is also a great place to come to work.

“I am excited about the beginning of the school year,” he said, which will start Aug. 20. “I can’t wait until we are all back on the SA campus.”

Wasdin and the board of directors are poised for the future.

“I am humbled and honored that they have entrusted me to be their partner in carrying out their vision for the future of Southampton Academy,” he said. “We are completely driven to make SA the gold standard for college preparation for this area at an affordable price.”

Thinking about the future does not mean that he and his staff have not been busy during the summer. Enrollment is already around 300 students, Wasdin said.

“We have more than 50 new student families,” he said. “The momentum through this summer through preparation and planning for the school year has been outstanding.”

Wasdin said that you can still enroll by simply dropping by the office, or picking up the application online at www.southamptonacademy.org.

“Our motto this summer has been that every day is an open house,” he said. “You can come by, and the staff would be happy to give you a tour.”

For more information about Southampton Academy, visit the above website or call 653-2512.