Virtual ceremony honors Virginia school superintendents

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Dr. Melody D. Hackney, Superintendent of Hopewell City Schools, was named Virginia’s Superintendent of the Year during the virtual Ceremony to Celebrate Virginia’s Superintendents held today by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

She was selected from among eight regional finalists by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Presidents of the Virginia Board of Education, the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia Parent and Teacher Association, the Virginia School Boards Association, the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

As the chief education leader of her small impoverished school division, Dr. Hackney faced many challenges from the start of her five-year service as Hopewell’s superintendent. The school division’s culture of having low expectations for its students, students’ negative attitudes toward school, and a poor track record of only one accredited school and stagnant SOL test scores were just a few of the problems she faced.

In order to turn Hopewell’s situation around, Dr. Hackney focused her students and staff members on three things: what was being taught and how; keeping what was working and eliminating what was not; and creating success by providing students with new opportunities and
experiences. The strategy that proved most effective was to provide real-life experiences for her students so that they could see the connections between the knowledge and skills they were learning and how they were being applied.

In her campaign to promote deeper learning through these experiences, Dr. Hackney fostered an environment of success in which everyone shared. As a result, teachers strengthened their commitment to education, students’ attitudes toward school became more positive, and all of Hopewell’s schools have become accredited.

More than 150 educators and state officials attended the Ceremony to Celebrate Virginia’s Superintendents virtually. The state officials who participated included Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, Board of Education President Daniel Gecker, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. Although he was unable to attend, Gov. Ralph Northam recorded a message that recognized all of Virginia’s superintendents for the great job they have done leading the changes necessary to continue their students’ education during the COVID-19 pandemic school closures.

Virginia Board of Education President Daniel Gecker reiterated this message when he thanked all of Virginia’s superintendents for their exceptional leadership during the COVID19 Crisis. He said, “ALL of Virginia’s superintendents could be considered Superintendents of the Year as they have gone well above and beyond the normal requirements of their jobs to ensure that learning continues in their school divisions while providing social and emotional support for their students, staff and parents.”

As Virginia’s Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Hackney will be eligible for the National Superintendent of the Year Award, which will be presented next February in New Orleans by the American Association of School Administrators.

Regional Superintendents of the Year

Region I
Melody D. Hackney
Division Superintendent
Hopewell City

Region II
Elie Bracy, III
Division Superintendent
Portsmouth City

Region III
Carol B. Carter
Division Superintendent
King and Queen County

Region IV
Shannon L. Grimsley
Division Superintendent
Rappahannock County

Region V
J. Douglas Straley, II
Division Superintendent
Louisa County

Region VI
Eugene P. Kotulka
Division Superintendent
Alleghany County

Region VII
Haydee L. Robinson
Division Superintendent
Dickenson County

Region VIII
Charles M. Berkley, Jr.
Division Superintendent
Lunenburg County


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