HANOVER COUNTY, Va (WRIC) — 8News reached out to every school system in Central Virginia to see how superintendents are preparing for the coming school year. Here is what Superintendent Michael Gill of Hanover County had to say.
1. What do you believe your school system’s biggest strength is?
Without question, the greatest strength of Hanover County Public Schools is our people. While we are proud of our wide range of robust programmatic offerings, the professionalism, compassion, and dedication of our teachers and staff is what makes the difference in our students’ success. Our focus will continue to be on serving the holistic needs of our students while also working to strengthen our community one student at a time.
2. What are you most looking forward to this school year?
Every year, what we look forward to the most is seeing students fill our hallways and the subsequent teaching and learning taking place in our classrooms. For the last several years, our focus has been on providing our students with the most relevant, equitable, and innovative education possible. These areas of emphasis have become the pillars of our school division, and they are what drives our daily focus. This year, we will make several enhancements in these areas. For instance, we will launch a one-to-one student device pilot at one of our middle schools as we prepare for a full one-to-one initiative in our secondary schools as part of our technology plan. We will also take a deeper dive into equity, both in our schools and with our community equity advisory committee. We will also continue to stress innovation by promoting novel solutions to complex problems in all areas of the school division.
3. What changes can parents expect to see in your school system this year?
From a division perspective, the changes may seem subtle. We prefer a mindset of continuous improvement. We focus on how we can best serve our students and community on an ongoing basis rather than implementing new initiatives or changes at a specific point in time each year. We closely and routinely review all areas to help ensure we are operating at optimum tempo, from the time students get on the bus until the time they get home and everything in between. For example, this includes evaluating bus routes and bus stops to ensure they are safely and efficiently serving our students; making sure our curriculum is robust and in alignment; ensuring our facilities are safe, clean, and healthy; examining our cafeteria menus; and, making sure our school and division communications are reaching our intended audience.
4. Is there anything else you want parents to know ahead of this school year?
We believe strongly in educating the whole child, which includes socio-emotional learning and destigmatizing mental health issues. Last school year, a team of school professionals teamed up with community experts to explore best practices related to serving mental health needs in our schools. They then presented a set of recommendations to our School Board. This year, we look to continue acting on these recommendations to ensure safe, welcoming, and nurturing learning environments in all of our buildings. Most of all, we want our parents to know that we recognize and value the amount of trust they invest in us daily with their children. It is a privilege to serve our students, parents, and community in this regard. We are a direct reflection of the community that we serve, and our community is strong.
Be sure to stick with 8News the week of August 26. 8News anchor Amy Simpson talked to Superintendent Gill one-on-one.