Superintendent looks to new school year, with students back on track

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 7:17 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Public Schools Superintendent Verletta White says she’s excited to get students back in the classroom and back on track after two very challenging years.

“I’m always excited to start a new school year. I hope everyone else is excited too,” White told WDBJ7 in a recent interview.

When she arrived in Roanoke, the pandemic was already unfolding. Two years later, she says the school system continues to prioritize safety and address lingering effects, but is ready to turn a new page.

“We do know that there is some learning loss that we need to recover,” White said. “We do know that we’ve had to set the reset button. And we do know we will have to accelerate learning in many cases. That’s our work. That’s the work that we have to do.”

White said there are many reasons to celebrate, starting with the school division’s staff.

“We do have a slogan in Roanoke City Public Schools and it says that ‘We are one.’ Well, that statement has never been more true than it is today. We are one. That’s how we’ve gotten through the past two years,” White said.

Topping the list of continuing concerns is school safety, which led to the recent plan of enhancements approved by the school board.

“We have a comprehensive safety plan. We’ve had a comprehensive safety plan in place for quite some time, but we know that we can get better,” she said.

White is relentlessly optimistic, and adamant the school system is innovating.

“We have launched our equity in action projects so that we can double our seat capacity for career and technical education,” White said. “We believe that workforce development is so critically important.”

She said the school system has been successful in hiring new teachers and does not face a serious shortfall.

And she said she is in for the long haul as well.

“And so I’m excited to continue what we have started, and to see through what we have started,” White said. “We’re on to something special here. And I think people are seeing that. And I’m blessed to be a part of it.”

Teachers will gather at the Berglund Center Thursday morning for their annual convocation.

White said she wants to focus on and celebrate the teamwork that will serve the students of Roanoke when they return to their classrooms Tuesday, August 23.

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