With the end of the school year approaching, April often is a time when principals announce retirement plans. This year, four elementary school principals at Albemarle County Public Schools have made such announcements, representing a combined 81 years of service as educators to students in the county.
New principals will be named over the next several weeks at Hollymead, Greer, Scottsville, and Stony Point elementary schools, and Red Hill Elementary School also will have a new principal as the result of Art Stow’s appointment as the associate principal at Sutherland Middle School.
Principals who have announced that they will retire at the end of the current school year, on June 30, include Sharon Amato-Wilcox at Scottsville, Andy Johnson at Stony Point, and Nancy Teel at Hollymead. Robyn Bolling, Greer’s principal, said she will retire on September 1.
“Every one of these school leaders has had a deep and long-lasting impact on the growth and development of students at their school,” said Dr. Matthew Haas, the school division’s Deputy Superintendent. “Since Nancy Teel’s appointment in 2012, Hollymead students have been among the top performers in our division and beyond, with Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates of 90 percent and more,” Dr. Haas pointed out. “Nancy’s collaborative management style and her empathy with all of the students in her care were immediately evident when she was Baker-Butler’s assistant principal in 2005 and later as the principal at Scottsville,” he said.
Teel joined Albemarle County Public Schools in 1977 as a kindergarten teacher at Red Hill and served that community for 27 years before moving to Baker-Butler.
Bolling was named Greer’s principal in 2012. She is completing 32 years in education, having previously served the Fairfax County school division, where she was named “School Principal of the Year” among nearly 200 Fairfax school principals.
Dr. Haas said that Bolling faced some of the most significant management challenges of any principal, leading a school with a high rate of students leaving the school community during the school year and a comparably high rate of new students entering the school. “She has an incredible personal connection with families that has made everyone feel included and at home,” said Dr. Haas, “Through such innovations as the school’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Lab and its sharp focus on reading and literacy skills, there has been a steady upward trend in student academic performance. That peaked this year with Greer earning full accreditation,” he added.
Amato-Wilcox joined the school division in 2008 as an assistant principal at Burley Middle School and became principal there the next year. She has served as Scottsville’s principal since 2012. In one year under Amato-Wilcox’s guidance, SOL reading test pass rates jumped 15 percent, and math test pass rates have improved by 18 percent over three years. In 2016, Scottsville was named by the Virginia Department of Education as a Title I Distinguished School.
“What is most impressive about Sharon’s record at Scottsville is her ability to unite and encourage the staff to bring out the highest potential of each student and the care she devotes to every child’s needs. That was even more valuable this year when the school welcomed more than 50 students who attended the former Yancey Elementary School,” said Dr. Haas.
Johnson began his teaching career in the school division at Crozet Elementary School in 1994 and also taught at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School before joining Stony Point in 2009. He became the school’s principal in 2014. Johnson has encouraged and led a well-rounded instructional program at the school, and in 2017, Stony Point was one of nine schools in the nation to receive the U.S. Department of Education’s top environmental award as a Green Ribbon School. Stony Point also was one of the first schools in the division to pilot and later extend a maker curriculum, which encourages students to use their creativity, problem-solving, and teamwork skills to complete projects of their own choosing.
“We are grateful for the way in which Andy has brought innovative strategies and highly imaginative activities into the learning experience for children,” said Dr. Haas. “As we move toward a curriculum that more closely matches what children learn with the skills they need to make them successful in a career, Andy has been a wonderful role model for educators,” he added.
Dr. Clare Keiser, currently the Director for Educator Quality, said that members of the Greer, Hollymead, Red Hill, Scottsville, and Stony Point communities will be notified by next week of how they and school staff can participate in surveys that will be used to help guide the selection process for the new principal for their school. Several community members, teachers, and staff also will be contributing to an interview panel.
“Community and staff opinions are such an important part of our selection process,” Dr. Keiser said. “Our experience shows that this is the most effective way to connect to the issues and qualities that matter the most to each individual learning community. That, in turn, leads to making the best decisions,” she said.
Dr. Keiser said she expects interviews of top candidates to begin within two weeks and for appointments to be made well before the start of the new school year on July 1.