When the doors finally open for the new year at Montross Middle School, excited students will meet an equally excited new administrator. Mrs. Leah Segar was recently selected to be the assistant principal at MMS.
She brings 9 years of educational expertise to the school and is eagerly awaiting the beginning of school. “The biggest challenge that lays ahead of me as an Assistant Principal is supporting my principal in maintaining a sense of community for our students as many have been disconnected from the school since mid-March. Helping families feel connected to the school, while continuing to provide them with high quality education, will challenge me to rethink the way schools communicate and engage.”
“The faculty and staff of Westmoreland County Public Schools has been completely welcoming and supportive. This truly is a great place to work.”
Segar is not a stranger to the Northern Neck. Her husband, Jamie, grew up in the Essex County area. When she started teaching, after a brief stint as a shift manager and trainer for Walmart, Segar switched careers and went back to education. After three years as an English teacher at Essex, she worked as an 8th grade English teacher at Fairfield Middle School in Henrico County. “Henrico exposed me to a lot of administrative level work. I am familiar with middle school. My whole career has focused on the middle school years. There is never a dull moment. This year my son is a rising 7th grader.”
She grew up with a mother, aunts, and several adult cousins who were in education. “At first, teaching was not on my short list of careers. I wanted to break the cycle, so to speak. At that time, I was interested in science and technology and wanted to pursue a career in biomedical engineering. In my junior year of college, I experienced a life-alternating event. I was left having to make a decision for how I would complete my undergraduate degree coursework. Life circumstances prevented me from immediately completing my educational coursework, and I entered the corporate world after graduation. When called upon to train staff and implement procedures on the corporate level, many of my trainees would remark that my mannerisms and even handwriting resembled that of a teacher. After some soul-searching, I realized they were right and that I had truly been running away from a calling. Shortly thereafter, I became a career switcher and entered the field of education.”
“There was not a better decision made than that to become an educator. It is far more complex and demanding than I believed it to be when I started my educational journey, but it is, by far, the most rewarding experience I have had.” She said that her family has always been supportive of her journey. Calling her husband “a blessing,” Segar continued, “At one point, I was enrolled in two Masters’ Degree programs at the same time. There were times when my boys would read excerpts from my textbooks to me, or we would just sit at the kitchen table completing work together. My husband has always shared the load of running a household with me and has been my biggest cheerleader. They may not always understand why I am drawn away from home, but their support is consistent. My extended and immediate family reaches out to me to encourage me; they have always been supportive of me, and I am eternally grateful for their love.” She is married to her husband Jamie. They share two sons, Jacob and Jamie Segar, II.
She draws on the strength of her parents. Her father is Willie Dixon, minister at Mars Hill AME Zion Church in Sussex County, Virginia. Her late mother was a teacher. “My biggest inspiration from a teacher was from the one who raised me. My mother was a dynamic early childhood special educator with the Newport News Public School system. She was humble, hardworking, and really pushed her students to grow and develop to their highest potential. She was a teacher leader who led by example and was willing to have courageous conversations with families and colleagues in respectful, powerful ways. She taught me to be flexible, innovative, and passionate about the work being done.”
Segar is used to a rural area. “I believe in a small school district. There are unique challenges that face rural communities, but, in most cases, a strong desire for students is to be given a top-notch education parallel to that of larger areas. Westmoreland County schools have the people and record of success in place that I wanted to learn from, grow from, and add support to.”
“I want to be able to see the complete view of education from almost every stakeholder’s perspective; I want to be able to understand the nuances of decision making from a policy-making to a school-based level. From there, I want to be able to build a better educational system for students. What direction that will take, I am uncertain. But, I am certain that wherever I go and whatever I do, I want to be an effective communicator and collaborator that advocates for all students.”
Mrs. Leah Segar is excited about education and Montross Middle School. “I hope to learn more about the WMLCPS family, to work with families to navigate through this unusual time with the resources and support, and I hope to grow as an individual and a leader.” Her positive attitude is a welcome gift to the community and the MMS students. She is a woman who has found her niche in life and now shares the gift of knowledge with the Westmoreland County school family.