School Board officially launches superintendent search

RappU and high school to begin course integration

The Rappahannock County School Board on Tuesday accepted a “superintendent application and preferences letter” that officially announces the opening for a new county school superintendent.

Board chair Wesley Mills thanked the interim superintendent, Gary Blair, for being the document’s “architect and editor.” Applications for the opening, caused by the departure earlier this year of former superintendent Donna Matthews, must be postmarked by May 19.

Meanwhile, RappU founder Doug Schiffman spoke about integrating his Sperryville learning center’s courses with the high school’s vocational training and certification.

“The goal of RappU on the workforce training side,” Schiffman told the board, “is to try to do things both for the school community and adult community and leverage the talents, powers and skills that each can bring to the table.

“Health professions was an obvious one. We just got our . . . Virginia Board of Nursing approval to do the nursing class,” he said. “And it’s an ideal one to start because it’s a difficult one for the school to offer in the school — you don’t have the facility, you don’t have enough people, but [what is better] to be able to just send people about three miles down the road to take the class?

“Basically the high school is taking over the facility on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings starting in mid-August and going until May,” Schiffman then announced, as the schools’ executive director of academic services Shannon Grimsley’s face lit up. “The goal down the road is to see what else at RappU that high school students can take and adults can do at the same time.”

Schiffman said the courses could lead to employment opportunities for the county and region with health professions, “because Valley Health has been our partner and has been extremely generous — to finally maybe get them to put an urgent-care or a small hospital facility in the county and hire the people that we trained.”

Blair called Schiffman “a treasure to Rappahannock County,” adding: “If you don’t think one person can make a difference, look what he has done.”

Meanwhile, Blair presented an update on the C.A.R.E early reader program to further ready students before entering preschool and kindergarten.

“The superintendent’s initiative is to start at birth . . . when someone has a baby and gets home, we are going to send a sort of welcome-wagon out, some little gifts in a basket with some books, some information about developmental reading stages, and we are going to stay with that parent all the way through, invite them to the school . . .

“This is an idea and we are going to turn that into a reality thanks to our executive directors and the guidance of Mrs. Grimsley.”

“It is concerning,” Grimsley agreed, relating a story of a child who during kindergarten registration was handed a pen and looked puzzled, and then picked up an iPhone and asked, “How about this?”

An unedited video of the School Board 6 p.m. session on Tuesday, April 11, can be found online at, or on the newspaper’s YouTube channel at

Documents from the meetings are available at

Luke Christopher
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Luke is a "Best of D.C." photographer who has been published, in print, in The Washington Post, The Washington Times and Miami New Times. He started his photography career as a reporter for the University of Maryland's daily newspaper and served as the entertainment editor for "City Living " magazine. Website: