Debora Collins, the Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning for Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS), has been appointed as the school division’s Deputy Superintendent, effective July 1. She will succeed Dr. Matthew Haas, who will become the Superintendent of Schools on the same date. Dr. Haas is succeeding Dr. Pamela Moran, who announced her retirement earlier this school year.
Dr. Clare Keiser, currently the Director of Educator Quality in the Human Resources Department, will become Assistant Superintendent for Organizational Development and Human Resource Leadership on July 1. Also, Rosalyn Schmitt, now the Director of Budget & Planning, has been appointed as the school division’s Chief Operating Officer. She succeeds Dean Tistadt, who is retiring on June 30.
“Each one of these highly talented education professionals are hands-on contributors to the strong foundational base that supports the remarkable achievements of our students,” Dr. Haas said. “At a time when the competitive challenges are becoming more dynamic and complex, the best strategy is to have the best people making decisions and helping to move high-performing organizations forward,” he said.
Ms. Collins was appointed the Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning in May 2017 and currently is responsible for the curriculum, staffing, budget, and federal programs of all 25 of the division’s schools. She was selected last year by the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development as its Curriculum Leader of the Year.
Among the more influential programs under her direction is the division’s nationally recognized coaching model, which brings the most innovative and results-based teaching practices to the more than 900 classrooms throughout the division. Based on the nationally renowned Niche evaluation of school divisions, ACPS is ranked third among 131 school divisions in the Commonwealth, with grades of A+ for teaching, academics, and college preparation of students.
“Ms. Collins deserves a great deal of credit for those high scores,” Dr. Haas pointed out, “As a highly analytical and collaborative leader, she is able to instantly identify how to connect with every student’s potential. Her broad range of knowledge about what works in the classroom, the integrity with which she sets expectations for high performance, and the interpersonal skills that lead educators to find their own best solutions make her an extraordinary asset in public education,” he added.
Since her appointment to her current role in 2012, Dr. Keiser has led the division’s recruitment of teachers and school administrators. The school division annually hires close to 150 new teachers for its 25 schools, with applicants from throughout the United States and overseas. Niche ranked the division’s faculty in the top four among Virginia’s 131 school divisions.
“Dr. Keiser’s impact is clear, from the newest teachers in our classrooms to the most effective principals in our schools,” said Dr. Haas. “In fulfilling their missions, school divisions are heavily dependent upon the personal qualities and leadership of every single educator. In many cases, we receive 80 or more applications for a single teaching position. Making the right selection is enormously important, let alone making 150 right decisions each year among thousands of applications. That’s exactly the insight and expertise Dr. Keiser brings to the decision-making process and is a major reason why our teaching core consistently is so highly ranked. It’s also why we receive so many applications for each position,” he said.
Ms. Schmitt joined ACPS in 2010 as a planner and project manager in the division’s Building Services department. She oversaw the development of the division’s capital budget requests each year and the bid, design, and build performance on new contracts. She became the Assistant Director of Facilities Planning in 2015, working closely with the Long-Range Planning Advisory Committee, various redistricting committees, and the School Board in addressing capacity needs and improvements in all three feeder patterns.
She was a major participant in the development of the priorities in the 2016 school bond referendum overwhelming approved by voters. Among those priorities were improvements in school security, updated science labs and classrooms, and a new addition to Woodbrook Elementary School. She was appointed Director of Budget & Planning in 2017.
“Every highly successful organization has a Rosalyn Schmitt,” Dr. Haas said. “That’s the professional who always has the right answer, because of their passion for detail, the high value they place on data and experts, the ease with which they assemble diverse perspectives to solve problems, and their comfort with new concepts,” he said.
Ms. Schmitt’s range of responsibilities, Dr. Haas said, will include the division’s Transportation, Building Services and Child Nutrition departments as well as the budget.
Ms. Collins joined ACPS as a sixth-grade math teacher and served as principal for Red Hill and Yancey elementary schools. She moved to the central office in 2004 as Assistant Director of Federal Programs, Grants, and Adult Education, assuming increasingly responsible leadership positions since then. A Virginia Tech graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, Ms. Collins received her master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Virginia (UVA).
Dr. Keiser’s first appointment with the school division was in 2004 as an assistant principal at Henley Middle School. She became the principal of Hollymead Elementary School in 2007 and served five years before her current appointment. She began her career in education as an elementary school teacher with Prince William County Public Schools. Her experience also includes teaching for five years in Japan at a school for dependents of Department of Defense employees. She is a Penn State graduate and received her Master of Education from George Mason University and her Doctorate of Education from UVA.
Prior to joining the school division, Ms. Schmitt was a project manager for Artisan Construction, a local residential and commercial designer and builder. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from UVA and a Master of Business Administration from Virginia Tech.