Lister ready to start school year as WHS principal

Published 11:45 am Thursday, July 27, 2023

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Editor’s Note: Information about Lister’s previous employment has been updated. 

Isaac Lister, Jr. vividly remembers being a young boy who visited his grandmother’s classroom where she tasked him with completing the same work she assigned to her students. While most grandchildren would have begrudgingly done the work, Lister was not that way. He loved doing the work, and later as a high school student, loved tutoring his peers. 

A life-long passion for learning and teaching has guided Lister to becoming Washington High School’s new principal. He follows Jeff Sauls who started in 2021. Sauls will be the Coordinator at the Alternative Learning Program (formerly the Education Technical Center), Beaufort County Schools confirmed.

Describing his first day as principal of Washington High School, Lister said it was “surreal.” 

“When I got here, I came into the office and I took a look around. I placed my first box down and I sat in the chair, and wondered if I was dreaming or if it was real. It was almost like a surreal experience, because you envision it, you think about it and then you see that it’s really happening,” Lister said. 

His first initiative as principal is to get to know and form relationships with members of the Washington community. 

“Coming in, I see this as a unique opportunity to really connect with the community and establish relationships. I think that is going to be very key,” Lister said. 

His second initiative is to ensure students know what they will do after graduation whether it be pursuing higher education, enlisting in the military or joining the workforce. 

“We want every student to leave here with a plan of what they want to do with their life even if the plan changes along the way,” Lister said adding that the ideal outcome is that students, “have an idea and are thinking about it from the first day that they walk in here as freshman from when they leave graduation stage – they’re thinking about that plan.” 

Lister is currently working and speaking with staff to determine how and where Washington High School can improve. 

“I am really going to take time talking with the staff here, talking with the community about the needs of the students. So once I assess that data through honest conversations about what is going on with the school – we’re going to find those things out. This is something that is going to  take everyone to do,” Lister said. 

Seeing PamPack students walking into Washington High is what Lister looks forward to most about the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 28 which is also Lister’s birthday. 

“When we go live – lights, camera, action- I think seeing them for that very first time in this school setting is going to be exciting for me,” Lister said. “What better gift than to be in a new school, in a new role as principal, with your new family.” 

Lister saw Washington High School and Beaufort County Schools as a “golden opportunity,” because it is similar to Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City where he was previously a student, educator and administrator.  

“I wanted to connect with this community and become part of the fabric of Washington, and I felt like it would be a fit with me and the school so I took it as an opportunity to see if I could become part of the PamPack family,” Lister said. 

Lister’s career in education began at his high school alma mater, Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City. He graduated in 1997 then returned in 2001 for his first teaching assignment after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from Elizabeth City State University. 

After receiving his teacher’s certification from East Carolina University, he then graduated with a Masters of Arts in Education and Human Development degree from The George Washington University in 2008 and a Masters of Science in Mathematics from Elizabeth City State University in 2013. 

In 2016, he was Dean of Students and later Assistant Principal at Perquimans County High School and Perquimans County Middle School.

In January of 2022, Lister was Assistant Principal of Northeastern High School before transferring to Washington High School. 

When he is not at school, Lister is a pastor at New Birth Fellowship Church in Elizabeth City. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends, vacation, watching sports, listening to music and participating in organizations in Elizabeth City.