Stephen Hackett is pumped up about being the new principal at Carver College and Career Academy. He called it a huge honor and responsibility and is loving every second.
Hackett said he is most looking forward to working with the students, staff and community and seeing a noticeable change in the student experience. One of his goals is to build a connection with Carver’s roots, and he said he wants every student to be extremely proud of the school’s history.
The building opened in 1948 for black students as Carver High School, and it closed in 1970. It later was used to house middle school students (Carver Middle School, 1976 to 1996) and freshmen (Thomas Dale West campus, 1997 to 2001) before it became Chesterfield Community High School in 2001. It has been known as its current name since 2015.
“As far as other widespread things … I really want students, parents, the community [and businesses] to recognize that, at Carver Academy, we’re a small non-traditional school with super-supportive environments for students and unlimited opportunities for them,” Hackett said.
There are great opportunities in education, he said, and the options are outstanding, considering what students are doing in the classroom, along with regional workforce demands and forecasts. Hackett said seeing the bigger picture should make their classes more meaningful.
Hackett was born in Pittsburgh and moved to New York when he was 2. After high school, he signed up for the Army Reserves, where he served for eight years. He tried out different majors and initially thought he wanted to be an architect. When he learned of a pathway to becoming a technical education teacher and teach engineering and architecture, he got a bachelor’s degree in technological education from Buffalo State College.
Hackett ended up in Virginia after visiting his sister, who was attending Virginia Commonwealth University. After dropping off his resume and talking with recruiters at a job fair, he had a contract with Chesterfield County an hour later.
During his time as the career and technical education teacher and department chair at Matoaca and Cosby high schools, Hackett earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision from VCU.
He moved into administration and became an associate and assistant principal at Chesterfield Career and Technical Center at Hull Street, and then got a doctorate in educational leadership, also from VCU.
He said that in transitioning to administration, he found it was very different than being in the classroom.
“As an administrator, the relationships are super, super important to build, and the trust is important to build,” Hackett said. “It’s a lot harder because you don’t have that face-to-face time; one thing I do miss is seeing the development of a student in my class.”
He said being a principal is a dream job.