Meet the Principals
Teresa Smith, Principal
New Albany Primary School
Teresa Smith became the New Albany Primary School Principal in the summer of 2015. Her focus is to maximize learning for every child, every day through staff support and being a visible presence in the Primary Building.
Prior to her arrival in New Albany, Mrs. Smith served as the principal of Herbert Mills Elementary School in Reynoldsburg. As principal, Teresa led the redesign of the school, from a neighborhood elementary to the district's second STEM elementary school. During her three years as principal, the school focused on blended learning, problem-based learning, innovation and design challenges.
Prior to becoming a principal, Teresa taught third grade for seven years in the Reynoldsburg City School District. She has extensive knowledge of early literacy and has led her building in improving literacy instructional strategies. Teresa also has worked to improve the school culture and climate in her current school, as well as leading with a focus on data. Prior to entering the field of education, Teresa worked in banking, serving as a branch manager.
Mrs. Smith holds a Masters of Art in Teaching and Learning from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Otterbein College. She received her Administrative licensure from The Ohio State University. Teresa resides in Etna with her husband Steven. They have two children, Christopher and Andrew and are grandparents to Christian, Laila and Harper.
Dr. Sarah Peterson
Dr. Peterson is beginning her 22nd year in education. She began her career in the Groveport Madison Local Schools, where she taught K-5th grade Visual Art for seven years. In 2005, Dr. Peterson came to New Albany Plain Local Schools and served as a 6-8 middle school Visual Art teacher for 10 years. She transitioned to a building leadership role in 2015 where she served as Dean of Students for the elementary and middle schools, and Assistant Principal for the middle school. This year she will serve as an Assistant Principal for the primary school.
Dr. Peterson is a committed instructional leader who is dedicated to building strong relationships with students, staff, and parents. She seeks to increase student achievement and growth for every student, and share her knowledge of content area literacy and integrated curriculum. She is strongly focused on building school culture and developing the social-emotional need of students.
Dr. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Visual Art and Education from Otterbein University, and a Master of Arts Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Ohio Dominican University. In 2015, she graduated from Concordia University with a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership.
Dr. Peterson is joined in the New Albany Plain Local School District by her husband Todd, who serves as the high school Athletic Trainer. She has two daughters; Emma is a recent graduate of New Albany High School, and will start at Columbus State in the fall. Maggie is currently a junior at the high school.
Mrs. Garris joins NAPLS from Worthington Schools, where she served in numerous teacher leader roles in addition to being a successful primary grade teacher. Her work as a Teacher Leader Liaison with the Ohio Department of Education focused on creating meaningful connections between staff, students, and families. She was a district leader in early literacy instruction and online learning. Mrs. Garris believes in the importance of developing the whole child, both academically and emotionally.
“Through the interview process, Melissa’s emphasis on strategies to increase academic achievement, combined with her care for the overall well-being and success of young learners, truly impressed the selection committee,” said Director of Elementary Education Scott Emery. Principal Smith shared, “Melissa’s student-centered leadership, passion, and commitment to providing the very best educational opportunities for students make her a wonderful addition to the Primary School leadership team.”
Mrs. Garris earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Xavier University, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Ohio Dominican University. She began her teaching career in Columbus City Schools where she taught kindergarten, first and third grades. She lives in Worthington with her husband, Greg, and their two children, Maggie (4) and Bo (2).
Mrs. Garris stated, “New Albany has a tradition of high expectations, innovation, and doing what’s best for kids. I’m honored and excited to join in that work!”