By Abby Elkins
Jamie Talbott, who has led James River High School (JRHS) for 15 years as head principal, is retiring.
Talbott has been head principal at the school since 2005. He spent four years serving as vice principal before becoming head principal.
Talbott said, “I have enjoyed this time immensely and have been very fortunate for the last 20 years to work with the teachers, students, parents, and community members.” When asked if he was going to miss it James River his answer was, “I will absolutely miss it here at JRHS; the experience has been very rewarding and I will cherish it forever.”
During the past 15 years, Talbott has had an impact on many staff members and students at James River. Jordan Pinkard, the incoming assistant principal and former math teacher at the school, said, “Mr. Talbott has been the linchpin of success at JRHS for over a decade. His willingness to allow teachers to be successful without being forced into a one-size-fits-all mold gives students the opportunity to have a variety of learning experiences during their time here. His work advocating for students during his time has led to a new library, the new gym addition, all new science labs upstairs, and a new track coming in the spring of this year. He has consistently demonstrated a willingness to listen to students, teachers, and parents in an effort to continually improve JRHS. Overall, Mr. Talbott will be greatly missed, not just for the work he has done as a principal, but also for the impact he has had on those around him as a person. For me personally, Mr. Talbott has had an overwhelming influence on my adult life by providing advice to me as a teacher, a prospective administrator, a homeowner, a father, and a husband.”
History teacher Chelsea Asbury said she wants to thank him for giving her the opportunity to work at the school as a first-time teacher 10 years ago and that James River is a wonderful school to work at.
When asked about his thoughts on retiring, Talbott said that he is excited to retire although he also knows that he will miss his students and his coworkers. He went on to say that his plans after retirement include substituting around in public schools. He also wants to participate in some more relaxing activities such as walking, biking, fishing/hunting, and more importantly traveling with his wife Tammy. His main goal after retirement is to relax.
Dr. Lisa Taylor, the incoming principal and former vice principal, said that he has done a fabulous job being principal at JRHS. Taylor explained, “This is such a safe and a great school environment where kids can be themselves and we will miss him for sure.”
When asked what he felt his greatest contribution to James River, he said, “I believe that I have created a great culture of caring for one another in our building here and I have been very pleased with the students who strive to help others in need through the years. I am also very proud of the teachers here who have cared for the students and kept such a positive attitude.”
While discussing some of his favorite memories during his time at the helm of the school, he mentioned how the radio station Star Country 94.9 was sponsoring free concerts at schools that had the most votes in 2012. Talbott explained, “Our Key Club, which was led by the seniors at the time, came up with an idea to vote in for the concert and if they win they would give the concert to Staunton River High School. Staunton River High School was going through a hard time and dealt with the tragic deaths of students due to car wrecks that year. Our group sent in a ton of votes and won the concert for them. I am super proud of our students for doing something like that for another school going through something tough.”
As for a funny incident that will always stick with him, he said, “Ha, I remember going out to the student parking lot on a Friday afternoon and some students were going up the hill in their vehicles and they yelled out to me and said ‘Mr. Talbott! we’re going fishing—see you on Monday!’”
James River’s school secretary, Martha Alphin, reflected on a memory of Talbott that will always stick with her. She said, “Back in the day, we had ‘fun day’ down at the pool in June. He would put raw eggs in his pockets and pop people over the head with them. He would make himself look silly by dancing around and everything. I have so many memories with him. Another one of them would be when he dressed up as Andy Griffith and Mr. Ketron dressed up as the sheriff. He is a great guy, and he cares for his students and coworkers very much.”
The District Supervisor of CTE and Adult Education, Mike Ketron, said, “Mr. Talbott is the best principal that I have ever worked with. I enjoyed my time with him and all the James River family. You could not find a person more committed to fairness, upstanding values and the students of James River High School. I wish him the best in his retirement.”
Retirement celebration planned for Talbott
A drive-thru celebration honoring Jamie Talbott, the retiring principal of James River High School, will be held on July 29 from 3-5 p.m.
All students, staff members, and community members are asked to participate. They are also asked to share well-wishes or favorite memories in cards or notes.
Participants should enter the school grounds via Springwood Road and exit onto Narrow Passage Road.