Augusta County Public Schools welcomes four new principals for the 2022-2023 school year!

Get to know them by reading their features below.


Shannon Brake

Hugh K. Cassell Elementary

Mrs. Brake is from Strasburg, Virginia, and followed her mother’s footsteps to James Madison University where she earned a Masters of Art in Teaching, as well as, her certificate in administration and supervision. She first joined ACPS four years ago to serve as Assistant Principal at Clymore Elementary School. Mrs. Brake’s husband is a teacher in ACPS and her children also attend school in the division.

Ongoing professional development is important to Mrs. Brake. Currently, she is participating in the Statewide Communities of Practice for Excellence (SCOPE-17) through the University of Virginia. Additionally, she recently completed training in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) to learn more about the science of reading so she can partner with teachers for literacy instruction and support students who have challenges with developing reading skills. Additionally, implementing Responsive Classroom to support students’ social-emotional development is a priority for Mrs. Brake. 

Opportunities to get to know staff members and families and to begin collaborating with the community are the things Mrs. Brake has enjoyed most about her first several weeks at Cassell Elementary. In her first five days as principal, she met with about 70 staff members! She asked each of them what they loved about Cassell and their responses were almost always about appreciation for the people who are a part of the Cassell community. Mrs. Brake said, “I am excited to now be a part of this fantastic community and I’m looking forward to forming lasting relationships with families.”

Crystal Hanger

Wilson Memorial High

Mrs. Hanger can identify many experiences that prepared her for the role of principal. The three most prevalent are being raised by a fantastic mom who showed her how to be strong yet compassionate, having great role models throughout her career in education (Mrs. Ann Miller, Mrs. Vermell Grant, Dr. Nick Nycum, and Mr. Phil Coltrane to name a few), and being trusted with leadership opportunities that prepared her to make decisions and lead with compassion.  Becoming the head coach for Buffalo Gap girls’ basketball is what first brought her to ACPS.  She served ACPS as an Instructional Coach, Intervention Specialist, Reading Specialist, and Assistant Principal after beginning her teaching career in Waynesboro City Schools. 

Upon transitioning to WMHS, it didn’t take her long to realize the teachers at Wilson have high academic standards but also balance teaching students skills they will need in the world. Mrs. Hanger is most excited to see the teachers perform their magic!  She loves witnessing the connections teachers make with our students.  She knows when this connection happens, students are happier and work harder to accomplish goals they might not think they can achieve. Mrs. Hanger says, “I enjoy working with teenagers, especially preparing them for life outside of high school.  It's much more than academics for me.  I want to give back by being the role model so many others were to me.”

Mrs. Hanger has received a very warm welcome from the WMHS community including faculty, staff, students, and parents. She shared, “Our students at Wilson are great people and leaders.  Some students have approached me with ideas to improve our school and I am very excited to see where these ideas lead us in the future.”



Julie Maxwell

Valley Career and Technical Center

Mrs. Maxwell is returning to Augusta County after spending 12 years in Rockingham County Public Schools as a high school assistant principal and Assistant Coordinator for Massanutten Technical Center. Her first years as a teacher were at Stuarts Draft High School and Fort Defiance High School. She also served as an administrator for special education at Stewart Middle School. 

Mrs. Maxwell is excited to apply her professional skills and knowledge of Career and Technical Education in support of the students and instructors at VCTC. Since July, she has had the opportunity to reconnect with many former students who have joined the teaching profession or whose children attend VCTC. Mrs. Maxwell said, “I am looking forward to working with such a talented group of professionals who strive to connect our students with the community and the workforce through their passion and curriculum.”

Ali Wright

Craigsville Elementary

Originally from rural Pennsylvania, Mrs. Wright came to the Shenandoah Valley to attend Eastern Mennonite University. Mrs. Wright has filled multiple roles in ACPS before coming to Craigsville. She began her career in education as a special education teacher at the elementary and middle school level. She then worked as a Special Education Facilitator supporting teachers, administrators, and students from preschool - post-high school. For the last four years, Mrs. Wright served as Assistant Principal at Stuarts Draft Middle School. She and her husband have three children who are graduates of/students of ACPS. 

Mrs. Wright says that spending time at lunch getting to know her students has been one of the most enjoyable parts of the beginning of the year for her.  “We can do great things!” is the motto for the year at Craigsville under Mrs. Wright’s leadership. She says, “ I’m looking forward to being a part of the great things our staff and students will do.”