Donna O. Matthews has officially resigned her position as superintendent of Rappahannock County Public Schools effective March 9 and will join the Virginia Department of Education in Richmond as a coordinator of school improvement.
In a telephone interview yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 18), a tearful Matthews told the Rappahannock News that she has been “quietly looking” for another position that would allow her “more time with my family.”
She plans to commute to Richmond from Buckingham County, her permanent family home.
Matthews was appointed Rappahannock superintendent on July 1, 2013, having held educational positions in Buckingham, Amelia and Nottoway counties. She was selected from a pool of approximately two dozen applicants after going through a lengthy vetting process.
Her five-year contract with Rappahannock Schools was not set to expire until mid-2018.
“I will become a grandmother next month,” an excited Matthews said, adding that her children live in Mississippi and Florida.
The highlight of her time with Rappahannock schools: “Working with the people,” she answered without hesitating. “This is an outstanding group.”
She said only after much “prayer” and “many tears” did she come to the decision to leave.
On Wednesday, Matthews, who is home sick with partial pneumonia, forwarded to the News her “heartfelt” resignation letter to the Rappahannock school system:
Dear Rapp Family,
I wanted to share some news. It is truly bittersweet that I inform you of my plans and recent request to the board. On January 10, I gave my resignation letter to the board effective March 9th.
I had given much thought to completing the remaining year and a half of my contract and then retiring . . . As you know, the office of the superintendent is one of constant motion. Days, nights and weekends are required to perform the duties of the superintendency. It has been very busy, sometimes rather crazy, and educational. I have learned more about buses and plant management than I ever wished to know. But one thing has always been a pleasure- working with each of you to provide educational services above the norm for each of our students. It has been my greatest honor to be your superintendent and to be able to roll my sleeves up and work beside you. In fact, I could never imagine being a superintendent for any other school system — I found the best and the best found me — but service at this level comes with a price.
With my husband living 2.5 hours away and the stress and toll that being a good superintendent brings, I just felt that I was not able to let the job responsibilities go . . . In doing that, I was not home much with my family. Couple this with the fact that I will soon be a new grandmother, I decided it was time for a change in my life. I have always stressed “lead, inspire, and grow.” My dear friends, you never stop growing as long as you are willing to accept the challenge and strive to learn new things. For me, I decided that I was not ready for retirement; I just needed an avenue to contribute to the educational field while having the opportunity to be home with my husband. I wanted the opportunity to travel to Florida and visit my beautiful, sweet daughter and her new husband, and to Mississippi to spend time with my wonderful son, his wife, and soon to be first grandchild! Although I have vacation time, this position is rather difficult to leave untended for periods of time. So the more I struggled with this, the more I knew the answer for me.
I have given 100 percent in this leadership role and you have given me all you have to give and then some, remaining supportive and understanding of the ever changing requirements under DOE. Children are first and foremost at Rappahannock and our teamwork and effort has paid off. Together we have led, we have inspired others (and some rather awesome happenings around these two schools) and now it is time for personal growth.
I have accepted a position at VDOE effective March 10 . . .
I will forever remember each of you and the many incredible accomplishments that we have made together for the sake of our students. You are an exceptional group of individuals and have shown it only takes a vision to move mountains . . .
I wish all of you nothing but greatness, love, and appreciation. To my board and my exceptional staff, I remain humbled at the honor of working with you in this great school division.
The board will be working on an interim and a process for selection of your new superintendent. I trust them and know that they will put your concerns and considerations for students first and forefront.
See you soon!