Mitchell High School principal Joe Childs has been named state Principal of the Year for 2018-19 by the School Administrators of South Dakota.

In October, Childs will represent South Dakota's principals at the National Association of Secondary School Principals national ceremony, which will take place in Washington D.C. in conjunction with National Principals Month. From the 50 state winners, three finalists will be named as contenders for the National Principal of the Year Award.

Mitchell School District Superintendent Joe Graves gathered the MHS staff at the school's library Friday, surprising Childs with a small celebration.

"I had no idea what was going on," Childs said. "Dr. Graves told me we were heading to the library for a meeting. When I stepped in the library the teaching staff and my wife was there and Dr. Graves announced that I was honored with this award."

Childs, a Spearfish native, has been in Mitchell since 2006, and started his role as MHS principal in 2013. Prior to that, he taught in Mobridge and Watertown, and spent four years as the Longfellow Elementary principal prior to being the district's high school principal. He attended Dakota Wesleyan University for his undergraduate degree, earned his masters from South Dakota State University, and earned his doctoral degree from the University of South Dakota in 2017. Childs was a regional high school principal of the year winner in 2017 from the South Dakota Association of Secondary School Principals.

In a questionnaire submitted with the award nomination, students and teachers at the high school described him as very attentive and always willing to listen, devoting much of his time to the school. One of his teachers stated that Childs was the epitome of an outstanding principal, incredibly supportive of the school's staff, and as someone that brings in a number of different learning resources for continued growth.

Graves described Childs as very serious about ensuring that the programming at MHS is open to all students and that the benefits of it-reaching high literacy and numeracy proficiencies, graduating, attending postsecondary school and doing well there-are not just available to all students but become outcomes achieved by all demographic groups.

"Childs also oversees what is, in my opinion, the strongest, most demanding, most successful Second Chance High school in the state and has produced light at the end of the tunnel for many at-risk students," Graves said.

The Mitchell Board of Education will hold a short ceremony during their upcoming meeting on Feb. 11, honoring Childs for his achievement.