Letter: Of interim positions and lasting connections

This week I will conclude my five months as interim superintendent of the Rappahannock County Public Schools. I have truly enjoyed my time in this position, working with the school board members, the central office staff, the principals, the teachers and the families, as well as becoming acquainted with and growing fond of many of the students.

The budget development process demanded much of my time and attention, and I appreciated the commitment of time and effort of our two finance employees, of our school board members, of the board of supervisors and of all the staff who responded to many requests for information. I also appreciated the input of all the community members, whether directly involved in the schools or not, who took the time to share their perspectives.

Following on the heels of the budget process came the end-of-year activities, including the senior scholarship assembly, the spring musical, Baccalaureate, grade seven “graduation,” Commencement and the spring athletic awards; all celebrated our fine students and their accomplishments in ways that everyone in our community would appreciate.

I thank the Rappahannock County School Board for the confidence shown in me by appointing me as the interim superintendent, and I thank all the educators of RCPS for their welcome, their trust and their immediate collaboration as we worked to help our students grow and learn.

Our school division, like every other school system, has much to do and can always improve. Parent and community feedback helps us target areas for work, and processes like the development of a budget, the strategic plan revision and the hiring of a new superintendent offer us opportunities to identify needs and associated actions.

At the same time, it is important to note that we have many strengths on which to build, not the least of which is our knowledge of one another. In a tight-knit community such as ours, there is no anonymity. We do not have to address the impersonal climate with which so many school divisions in our nation struggle, as they divide thousands of students down into manageable “learning communities.”

In Rappahannock County, we are a learning community. We know one another, students and adults; we know where our talents lie and whom to ask for input and advice; and we care about what happens to one another. This shared commitment to one another; to our county institutions, including our schools; and to the greater good can serve us well as we seek to increase our quality of education and our service to our students and families. I look forward to joining our community in welcoming and working with our new superintendent, Donna Matthews.

As many of you know, my grandmother taught in a two-room schoolhouse in Rappahannock, and my grandfather was born in the farmhouse at the top of the Red Oak. I remember fondly summer weeks in that farmhouse, enjoying my great-Aunt Juluette Johnson’s collection of elementary school readers. Therefore, as an educator for more than 40 years, I especially appreciated this opportunity to serve our community’s schools, just as my great-aunt and grandmother did half a century and a full century ago. Our schools connect with the past even as they move into the future. Thank you for the privilege of being part of that continuum.

Sincerely,

Kathleen F. Grove
Woodville

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