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Transition begins for new superintendent

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Dr. Douglas Schuch takes oath of office

By Tom Wilmoth

Dr. Douglas Schuch began in earnest last week the transition process to become the new superintendent of Bedford County Public Schools.

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    Schuch was in Bedford visiting the county’s schools, meeting with principals and attending the school board meeting Thursday and high school graduations on Saturday. On Friday, he was officially sworn in for the superintendent’s position at the court house by Cathy C. Hogan, Clerk of the Circuit Court.

    “It’s gone great,” Schuch said of the transition process up to this point. “All of this helps me get a better picture (of the school system).”

    Schuch, who is moving here from the Stafford County school division, had a 10-day consulting contract with the county to help with the transition process and began working on that in April. He officially takes over as superintendent for the retiring Dr. James Blevins on July 1.

    Members of the Bedford County School Board took Thursday night’s meeting as an opportunity to thank Blevins for his service to the school system and also expressed appreciation to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bobbi Johnson, who is leaving            the  school  system to  become superintendent of Culpeper County schools. “We appreciate everything you both have done,” stated Board Chairman Gary Hostutler.

    Blevins presided over both his final school board meeting and high school graduations with the school system this week.

    Schuch said visiting area schools has helped him with the geography of the school system and he said those employees he has met have been “very welcoming.”

    Back in April, Schuch presented his transition plan to the school board stating that it will help him  as he seeks to make informed decisions that impact the children and families of the county. “It is important that I understand the values, traditions, expectations and hopes of the community,” he noted in the plan. He said the plan will help set a foundation “for refining and developing a common vision for the future of the school division.”

    As part of the transition process, Schuch will be gathering information over his first couple months here about the system’s schools and the communities through interviews, meetings with groups, school visits and by reviewing written materials. He said he plans to ask questions about the schools, the school division and the community. “Specifically I will ask what role our school should serve in this community, and what actions we can take now to meet the future needs of our students, families and community,” he stated in the transition plan document.

    As part of his initial transition, Schuch plans to meet with school and administration leaders, school board members, teacher organizations and local and national elected officials. He also plans to meet leaders from parent-teacher organizations, student organizations and leaders representing local businesses, religious and other community organizations.

    He added that school visits will provide him with insight into the schools and smaller communities that each serves.

    After collecting that data, Schuch noted, it will be used in the “development of strategic vision and goals for Bedford County Public Schools.”