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100 Years of Valley Springs Middle
100 Years of Valley Springs Middle
Posted on 08/28/2019
Mr. Ben Alexander, a former student, serves as principal of Valley Springs Middle in its 100th year.By: Benjamin Rickert, BCS Communications

Principal Alexander gets to know some of his new students.On the morning of August 19, a lot felt new for a school starting its one-hundredth year.

In the auditorium at Valley Springs Middle in South Asheville, Mr. Ben Alexander walked out in front of the incoming seventh grade class - half of the school’s more than 650 students - and introduced himself as their new principal. His words communicated warmth along with high expectations, and a challenge for students to see Valley Springs as their school, full of opportunities to discover themselves.

As he welcomed the young teens, cracked a few jokes, and earnestly shared a vision for success, Alexander imagined himself in their shoes and how they must have felt on that first day. This wasn’t difficult to do because only a few decades earlier, he was in their shoes- carrying a backpack, struggling to open his locker, and finding his way around Valley Springs as a student. Now, he’s proud to lead the school that helped shape his desire to teach.

“This school changes lives,” said Principal Ben Alexander. “And I would argue that any Buncombe County school can change lives because of the expansive opportunities in curriculum, cultural arts, and athletics. You also learn by interacting with your peers and teachers, listening to other people’s questions, and gaining other instructional viewpoints.”

Mr. Ben Alexander on the first day of school.As a Buncombe County educator, Alexander has always worked at a school he once attended. His former schools include Glen Arden Elementary, Valley Springs Middle, Cane Creek Middle, T.C. Roberson High, and Enka High, where he graduated in 2005. Since then, Alexander has served as a Latin teacher and assistant principal at Enka High, assistant principal at Cane Creek, and now principal at Valley Springs.

“It’s pretty fun for me,” he smiled.

Alexander firmly believes that everything public school leaders do should be driven by the needs of the classroom, which is where his desire to teach was born. As a Valley Springs student, he found inspiration in excellent teachers such as Ramona Bryson, Marion Dowd, Patsy Tipton, and Kelly Hyatt. But it was through Enka High’s Latin teacher Elizabeth Barbee that he found a clear path toward a classroom of his own. With Barbee’s encouragement, Alexander spent his first year out of high school studying in Italy, and then earned undergraduate and graduate Latin degrees from UNC Asheville and the University of Georgia, respectively.

Valley Springs Middle School (Photo: BCS Communications, Ben Rickert)Alexander’s passion for teaching was evident, and in 2014, he was named Teacher of the Year for both Enka High and the entire Enka District of BCS. Serving as a District Teacher of the Year helped Alexander discover a related passion: supporting and leading other teachers to make a greater positive impact on students.

This year, now armed with a master’s degree in school administration from the University of Scranton and an Educational Specialist (EdS) degree from Appalachian State University, Alexander accepted his first principal assignment at Valley Springs.

“I strongly believe in the power of the classroom and the ability it has to positively change and impact lives,” Alexander said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

He’s particularly enjoyed taking on the new role during the school’s centennial celebration. Under his leadership, the halls will be decorated with historical photos and murals. The school’s social media accounts will regularly share school facts using the hashtag #ValleySprings100. There are even t-shirts and a community cookout planned.

“We’re just proud that we’ve been in this community educating students the right way for 100 years,” he said.

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View more photos of the first day of school at Valley Springs Middle School on Facebook.



Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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