School news for Aug. 27

Kevin Brandriff to lead Headwaters

Headwaters chooses Kevin Brandriff as its new executive director.
Headwaters chooses Kevin Brandriff as its new executive director.

The Headwaters Foundation announced last week the appointment of Kevin Brandriff as its new executive director, bringing the foundation his experience in both education and nonprofits. Before coming to Headwaters, he was the dean of students at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, N.J., where he had also served as a teacher and houseparent.

Brandriff has worked extensively in development and support in nonprofits in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey, and is nearing completion of his master’s degree in nonprofit management. “His combination of good listening with commitment to students, education and nonprofits promises a good transition into the school community, the donor community and the larger community,” said Headwaters board chair Kathleen Grove.

Brandriff attended a small public school in Connecticut with a graduating class of 109. He believes that small public schools can offer students good opportunities and sees Headwaters as “helping students see the wide-open options.”

Grove said Headwaters received more than two dozen applications for the position of executive director, some local, and some from out of state and other parts of Virginia. The search committee interviewed viable candidates, asking questions that incorporated the input of all the board members and other friends of Headwaters.

The search committee had an array of excellent choices and discussed at length each candidate and his or her potential to match the current needs of Headwaters, Grove said. “The selection of Mr. Brandriff was unanimous,” she said. “One of his references reported that Mr. Brandriff was ‘beyond excited’ about Headwaters. The Headwaters board is excited about him and pleased that he is already meeting with stakeholders, such as Donna Matthews, superintendent of Rappahannock County Public Schools, and program managers of the After School Enrichment Program, Next Step, READ and Starfish.”

Brandriff is also spending time in the office familiarizing himself with operations and procedures, such as the process for the newly established Educational Enrichment Grants, the result of the joining of the Minigrants and Curriculum Enrichment programs.

Brandriff and his family are planning their move to Rappahannock and look forward to becoming part of our community, Grove said. “The Headwaters board is pleased to welcome him just as the Taste of Rappahannock approaches on Sept. 12,” Grove added. “Board members are confident that he will maintain the excellent momentum that Headwaters has achieved under the leadership of former executive director Jane Bowling-Wilson.”

Panther Pride: Spotlight on safety

Rappahannock County High School's new entrance, completed over the summer.
Rappahannock County High School’s new entrance, completed over the summer.

While the focus of Rappahannock County Public Schools (RCPS) is instruction, summer is often the time when the lion’s share of maintenance projects are completed — and this past summer was no exception! Along with the traditional cleaning and repair that occurs in the summer season, our schools underwent upgrades to improve safety.

The most visual upgrade was the renovation of the elementary school entrance or portico area. This renovation enclosed what had been a covered porch that was open at the sides and added a new set of front doors along with a new interior door that brings visitors directly to the reception office. Visitors are monitored through a video system before gaining entry from outside. They are brought into the now-enclosed porch and then ushered directly into the reception office, where staff members can assist them.

Over at the high school, attention is being garnered by the newly paved student parking lot. After years of fighting dust and filling potholes, Rappahannock County High School students, parents and teachers can finally pull in and park with ease. In addition to the safety the new pavement has provided, lines have been added to the parking lots for ease in parking. In addition, handicap accessibility has been greatly expanded, as recommended by a recent Civil Rights facilities audit. And as an added bonus, the gym and hall floors are keeping their smooth summer shine, no longer being dulled and scratched by blown or tracked-in grit.

Both schools have also benefitted from other upgrades that have enhanced school safety, many of which were funded by a safety grant received last year. The network and camera system upgrades will give school administrators and law enforcement the ability to view real-time video feeds from multiple areas within the building. All of these projects and more have a single purpose of ensuring that our schools are a safe place for our children to learn.

With school back in session, keeping our physical plant clean, well maintained and safe year-round ensures a healthy environment for learning at RCPS.

— Jimmy Swindler

WCDS’ early childhood team is growing

WCDS' early education team includes (from left) Nikki Brady, Jenny Boelter, Kim Shafran and Ann Landis.
WCDS’ early education team includes (from left) Nikki Brady, Jenny Boelter, Kim Shafran and Ann Landis.

Two new teachers have joined Wakefield Country Day School’s Early Education team and are ready to challenge the youngest children on campus with fun and purposeful learning.

Stepping into preschool is Jenny Boelter, who received her undergraduate degree from Sweet Briar College, her early childhood education endorsement from the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University, and has completed graduate courses toward her master’s in reading at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, with an emphasis in preliteracy and elementary remediation. She has taught pre-K and kindergarten at Powhatan School in Boyce and the First Presbyterian Weekday School in Winchester. Outside the classroom, Boelter gives her time to Destination Imagination, working as a team manager, and to her family’s home business.

Moving into teaching kindergarten is a veteran teacher and well-known Rappahannock resident, Nikki Brady. A certified teacher of elementary and early-elementary education, she has a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies and education from Virginia Tech and a master’s in education from Marymount University. She comes to WCDS with experience, enthusiasm and the knowledge of the high expectations the school has with regards to teaching students how to read and write and navigate “all things related to kindergarten.”

Brady and Boelter join Kim Shafran and Ann Landis, who collectively have taught the youngest members of WCDS for more than 20 years, to round out the school’s early-education team.

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