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An elementary school boy sits in front of a computer in his special education school while holding up a page of autographs.



Meet the Principal: Andrew Hipes

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Andrew Hipes, Principal of the Rivermont Alleghany Highlands campus, brings broad educational and leadership experiences to his new role. Andrew began his career at Rivermont as a Mental Health Associate and has since moved his way up into the role of principal.   

Q: What work experience do you have at Rivermont and in the field of special education? 

A: I originally started out working in public schools. I was a middle school teacher for a couple of years and then left to work at Rivermont. I’ve had several roles and responsibilities at Rivermont, and gotten to move around campuses as other opportunities opened to me. For example, I started at Rivermont as a Mental Health Associate at their campus in Rockbridge, VA. I then moved into a teaching position, where I served as an educator at the Roanoke Southeast campus. I have a master’s degree from Liberty University in teaching and am working towards a second master’s in special education and administration.  

Q: What makes you excited about being principal at Alleghany Highlands? 

A: I am most excited about the relationships that I will be able to build here. It is a small town with a small community, so building relationships with those in the area will be important. I also love the outdoors and doing things outside, so I am excited about being able to utilize the beautiful outdoor spaces that we have at this campus. One way I plan to do this is by building a greenhouse where students can take part in hands-on learning. 

Q: What do you love most about working in special education?  

A: It would have to be helping students find the best ways to learn. Every student that comes here has the ability to learn, but some learn differently and are here because they need extra support. My main focus is on the students and making sure that they have what they need to grow and be successful. 

Q: What’s your leadership style? 

A: I believe that I am a servant leader. I make it my mission to always be looking for creative ways to help our staff and students, especially those that are newer to the school. I believe that it’s important to set an example as a leader and model how to do things instead of just asking others to do it.   

Q: What do you envision as a successful first year, and where do you see Alleghany Highlands in a year from now? 

A: I see Alleghany Highlands growing and giving our students new opportunities in this next year. I think it will be important for our students to focus on building life skills that can carry over into life after school. I will consider it a successful first year if I make sure that students have what they need in order to grow and be successful, which includes transitioning students back to their home schools and into the real world.  

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