Interview with New Assistant Principal Mr. McNamara


Ben Fagan

Mr. McNamara hard at work in his office.

Jennifer Lee, Opinion Editor

Mr. McNamara smiles as he roams Roswell High School’s halls. (Credit: Ben Fagan)


This year, Roswell gained a new assistant principal, Mr. Matthew McNamara, who took the place of Mr. Josh Martin who left for an opportunity in another county.  

McNamara has long been a resident of Georgia, graduating from Northview High School and Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education and master’s degree in Middle Grades Education.  

He would later come to hold a Tier 1 in Leadership from the University of North Georgia, but he taught Special Education, General Education and TAG math for eight years at River Trail and Autrey Mill before that. In addition, he has worked as an assistant administrator at Johns Creek High School for the past four years, where he was recognized as Professional of the Year in 2021. 

The Sting was fortunate enough to interview him to learn more about his background and how he is settling into his new job. 

Sting: What was growing up in the Johns Creek area like?  

Mr. McNamara: What I saw was a lot of kids that were able to get things from an early age. They got brand new cars, they got a brand-new phone, they got this, they got that, it was just given to them. While I lived in that community, that wasn’t what I got. I had to work for everything which looking back on it, really helped make me who I am because you really appreciate everything that much more. You see people that are given things and when you have to work for it, you don’t see it as a kid how that helps to build character.

S: You have previously taught Special Education, General Education and TAG math for 8 years at River Trail and Autrey Mill, what exactly sparked your desire to be a teacher? 

M: I’ve always enjoyed being around kids and helping them have a light bulb go off so to speak. I was originally a sports management major in college; that was my degree. I got to my first class and found that this was not what I wanted to do, so I ended up going to the education building and someone from Special Ed was like, “Hey, you know, if you’ve got this kind of personality, I think you should really go into Special Ed.” So, I did.

S: Which was your favorite class to teach? 

M: I don’t think I really had a favorite. There were good and bad days for both, but at the end of the day kids learning is kids learning. It’s all rewarding seeing the lightbulb go off. Now if I had a Special Ed kid, we’ll be working on something for a long time, and they’ll finally get it and the light bulb went off. Those were days that you just celebrate, celebrate, celebrate.  Then you’ve got those TAG kids where they’re able to achieve bigger goals for themselves and you’re there to celebrate with them. There’s no one area I like more.

S: Why did you make the shift from being a teacher to an administrator? 

M: I wanted to have a greater impact on a larger number of students. The way to do that outside of teaching is to become an administrator where I can have a more overarching, you know, positive impact on students and teachers.

S: How has the adjustment from assistant administrator at Johns Creek High School to assistant principal at Roswell High School been so far? 

M: The transition’s been good. The teachers here are amazing, the administrators here are amazing, the support staff is amazing. You’ve got a lot of people that really love what they do here, so from that aspect it’s been an easy transition because the people that work here are just awesome. From the work standpoint, it’s definitely a learning curve cause you’re doing a job that you’ve never done before. So, whatever the job is, you go in and there’s a lot to learn. I’m learning at the get-go, but at the end of the day, if you’ve got kids priority and you’re thinking about them first. Then, whatever decisions you make are going to be for the best anyways.

S: What aspect of being the assistant principal of Roswell High School do you enjoy the most?  

M: Working with kids. For me, it’s one thing to see kids in a classroom but in high school, instead of just seeing kids in the classroom, you’re able to see them in all the things that they love. Is it band, orchestra, chorus? Is it the arts? Is it sports? Is it a club? You’re able to see the personality come out in so many places and just taking a step back and being able to see that light and see kids grow is really rewarding.

S: On the other hand, what aspect is the most challenging? 

M: Discipline. Kids are going to make poor choices; it’s a part of growing up. You learn, you make mistakes, and then you move on. But it’s never fun having that conversation with the kid and then having to break whatever news that is to the parents is also heartbreaking. Because you never want to make that call, whatever it is, but it’s part of the job. This is what I tell parents, “Hey, they made a mistake. Now, let’s take this mistake and learn from it so we don’t make the same mistake again.” And as long as we do that, then whatever mistake they made is worth it.

S: The position of assistant principal is not only high up, but it’s also understandably stressful. How do you handle the everyday stress of your responsibilities?  

M: Obviously some days are easier than others. You just have to take it a day at a time and understand and that you’re going to have some great days and some days that aren’t as fun. Like I said, those discipline things aren’t fun. The getting in classrooms, seeing teachers teach, seeing kids learn, seeing kids at their events doing what they love to do. That’s all the great parts of the job. You’re involved and you’re responsible for a lot as an assistant principal and it is hard, and you’ve just got to take it a day at a time. When you get overwhelmed with certain classes, it’s taking it a day at a time and just realizing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

S: When things get particularly draining, what motivates you to keep pushing? 

M: So, a couple things. One, the idea that you guys are kids. Wanting and motivating you guys to get to that next level, getting you guys to graduate high school, setting yourself up for success, whatever that looks like. If you want to go to college, great. If you want to go into a trade, great. If you just want to go straight into the workforce or the military, great. For me, the motivation is getting up everyday and making sure you can make that happen. My second motivation is my family. Obviously, I can’t do what I do without them, especially my wife. My wife is my rock and she’s been absolutely incredible to this entire journey. Without her, it’s just not possible.