Principals Appointed for Monticello High & the Division’s Charter Schools

The Albemarle County School Board this evening appointed new principals for Monticello and Murray high schools. Rick Vrhovac, currently Sutherland Middle School’s principal, will succeed Dr. Jesse Turner as Monticello’s principal on July 1, and on the same date, Chad Ratliff, the division’s Director of Innovation and Instructional Programs, will succeed Ashby Kindler as the principal for the division’s two charter schools, Murray High School and the Community Public Charter School.

Dr. Turner was appointed earlier this month as Albemarle High School’s principal, and Kindler was named the division’s Coordinator of Federal Programs.

Vrhovac has served as an educator and administrator in Central Virginia for more than 25 years, and he has been Sutherland’s principal since 2014. He also served as an assistant principal at both Walton Middle School and Albemarle High School.

Under Vrhovac’s leadership, Standards of Learning (SOL) student test scores at Sutherland consistently have improved, with more than four out of five students passing the statewide assessment tests. Additionally, the school has become one of the leaders in the school division for the quality of its mechatronics curriculum, which blends the study of engineering and technology, and in the performance of its students in the region’s annual science fair.

Ratliff also has been a strong influence on the division’s award-winning technology and maker education programs in his curriculum role. He is an advocate of project-based learning and for the development of entrepreneurial skills among all students. He serves on Governor McAuliffe’s Council for Youth Entrepreneurship, is a former member of the State Advisory Committee for Career and Technical Education, and recently was named to the National School Boards Association’s “20 to Watch” list of emerging educational leaders.

“Impact is the word I would use to describe the strengths of these two remarkable professionals,” said Dr. Matthew Haas, the school division’s deputy superintendent.

“In addition to the academic success Rick has brought to every school in which he has served, he has extraordinary interpersonal skills,” Dr. Haas said. “You can tell his credentials include being an outstanding athletic coach—he makes connections with students and parents that transfer into more active engagement with learning and more excitement about the potential of every single student.”

Ratliff has been at the center of many of the school division’s most innovative programs, including representing its maker education work at several White House sessions that have featured Albemarle County Public Schools students. He is the Project Director for the school division’s $3.4 million Investing in Innovation grant from the federal government. This grant, which also includes Charlottesville City and Fluvanna public schools, the University of Virginia, and several private sector partners, focuses on the application of advanced manufacturing and engineering principles to classroom projects.

“Chad’s cutting-edge vision is a perfect fit with the Murray and Community Public Charter School communities, with their emphasis on student empowerment,” Dr. Haas said. “His ability to bring internal and external partners together and to modernize the learning environment will produce instant results,” he added.

The deputy superintendent also praised the work of the Monticello and charter school communities that participated in the principal selection process through an online survey and on the respective interview committees.

A new search process will be put in place immediately, he said, to appoint a new principal for Sutherland Middle School. The target date for an appointment is July 13, with School Board approval at their regularly scheduled meeting.

Vrhovac received his Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from David Lipscomb University and his master’s degree in Physical Education from James Madison University. In addition to his 23 years with Albemarle County Public Schools, Vrhovac served as a teacher, athletics coach, and director of athletics in Louisa County for eight years.

Ratliff earned his Master of Education degree from the University of Virginia and his MBA from Virginia Tech. He also is an alumnus of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Executive Educators Leadership Institute, and he is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship for Piedmont Virginia Community College.