New superintendent, new teachers, new school year

By Ruthann Carr, Correspondent

Even though students aren’t due back until Aug. 11, school started for new staff Monday (Aug. 2). More than 40 attended first day orientation at the Fluvanna County High School.

They met new Superintendent Peter Gretz and many Fluvanna leaders.

While they ate lunch, Executive Director of Human Resources, Operations and Student Services Don Stribling presented Fluvanna’s constitutional officers: Tristana Treadway, clerk of the circuit court; Mel Sheridan, commissioner of the revenue; Jeff Haislip, commonwealth attorney; Eric Hess, sheriff and Linda Lenherr, treasurer.

After introducing herself, Lenherr joked with the new staff.

“You’ll get to know my name because it’s on your paycheck,” she said.

Also present was Aaron Spitzer, parks and recreation; Bryan Rothamel, economic development and Eric Dahl, county administrator.

“And I’m the one who distributes the money for your paychecks,” Dahl said, laughing.

During the morning session, Stribling told the group they can count on good evaluations by keeping three things in mind:

  • Build relationships with your students and their families;
  • Communicate;
  • Focus on instruction.

“Think of what is in the best interest of your student,” Stribling said. “Think of how you want to be treated. (How you handle a situation) may not be how you would do it at your house, but do what’s best for that student.”

After lunch, Gretz expressed some thoughts.

“We have a lot of work to do, to be sure, “he said. “There were academic gaps within our student groups before the pandemic, and when schools had to close and move through the various forms of operation over the past year, those gaps in some cases widened. We intend to work intensely to make sure all of our learners are maximizing their academic potential.”

“But our first, most important task is to re-engage our students and begin cultivating the transformational relationships that will pave the way for deep learning to happen. Our students in many cases have been isolated, without structure and routine and without connection. That’s our top priority – to ignite the spark of curiosity and inquisitiveness by building relationships marked by trust, care and relentless pursuit.”

Gretz’s first school board meeting was eventful as about 40 people made their thoughts known about masks, transgender policy and urging the board to not allow teaching that might make their white students feel bad about being white.

Gretz will give his recommendation on how to address the state recommendations on transgender inclusion at the Aug. 11 meeting.

On Monday, Gretz acknowledged the many challenges, but said he is looking forward to getting the school year underway.

“I’m excited to start the year and can’t wait for the first day of school,” he said. “We have some challenging things to navigate between now and then, and I will be investing my very best into each decision. But make no mistake, my heart and mind remain focused on what I believe is our most urgent priority and that is that all of our students come home on Aug. 11 knowing they matter, feeling that they were noticed and wanting to come back for day two.”



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