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Blevins announces retirement as school superintendent

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By Tom Wilmoth

After 10 years with the Bedford County School System, School Superintendent Dr. James Blevins has announced plans to step down at the end of the school year.

"The Bedford County School Board would like to thank Dr. Blevins for his over 10 yeras of service to the students of Bedford County and we wish him well in his retirement after 38 years in education," School Board Chairman Gary Hostutler said."

Blevins announced his resignation officially during the Thursday board meeting, though board members had been aware for some time of his plans. He had hoped to not make the announcement public until Friday, so he would have time to tell school staff, but word leaked out about his plans and he made the announcement at the Thursday meeting. Blevins left the meeting without commenting until he had time to speak with school personnel.

In a press release on his retirement, Blevins did say he had been fortunate to serve as superintendent with Bedford County Schools. "I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish during my tenure, and am thankful that I have been surrounded by such a wonderful staff," Blevins said in the release. "From our students, to our teachers, principals, parents and community members, there is no better place to raise a child than Bedford County, Virginia. Thank you for allowing me to serve you, and I look forward to making my final school year the best that Bedford County has seen."

The school board announced plans Thursday to begin a search for his successor. The board will be advertising to hire a professional recruiting firm to do a nationwide seearch for a replacement. "We hope to have a new person named in early 2009 who will provide outstanding leadership to our students, teachers and staff in this ever-changing field of public educaiton," Hostutler stated.

Hostutler said the board's goal has been to make the transition as smooth as possible.

He said, even before joining the board, he had been impressed with Blevins. "He has managed to do things very well on a limited budget," Hostutler said, adding that Blevins still has work to do before stepping aside on June 30, 2009. "We have a lot of things we're trying to accomplish," he said.

Hostutler noted Blevins' work on the renovation project at Jefferson Forest High School, a project that had a considerable amount of controvery. He said Blevins has also had to deal with the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act and the growing demand of standards of learning testing on the school system.

Hostutler said Blevins' replacement will need to be progressive, to help deal with the growing demands on preparing students for the workforce.

During his tenure in Bedford County, Blevins has been closely invovled in multiple renovations of the three high schools, the most recent being a $38.5 million project at Jefferson Forest High School Dedication of that work is set for next month. Blevins has also overseen the building of two elementary schools, Thomas Jefferson and Goodview.

Blevins, who has nearly 40 years in education, has served as superintendent since July 1, 1998. Prior to his appointment Blevins served as superintendent of schools in Nottoway County; principal of Dillwyn Elementary School in Buckingham County; principal of Buckingham Primary School in Buckingham County; classroom teacher in Buckingham County; and classroom teacher in Washington County.

While at Nottoway, Blevins was involved in the renovation of two elemenetary schools and the building of a new high school.

Blevins received his bachelor's degree in education from Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tenn., in 1972 and his mater's degree in education from the University of Virginia in 1975. He received his doctorate degree from NOVA University, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in 1987.

All of the board members offered words of praise at Thursday's meeting to Blevins for his service.

"I think he's going to be a hard act to follow," noted board member Talbot Huff.

"He's givenus 100 percent," added board member Shirley McCabe. She also said his work wasn't yet finished. "He has a lot of things to do before leaving."

Board Vice Chairman Debbie Hoback said Blevins had shown a lot of hospitality over the eyars. "He always has considered other people first," she said. "He's a great leader."