(June 27, 2013) – Loudoun County Public School Edgar B. Hatrick III announced earlier this month he would retire at the end of the 2013-14 school year. He has been the school district’s leader since 1991 and a graduate of Loudoun County High School, he has been working in the school system since 1967.
When Hatrick helped open Broad Run High School in 1969 there was just 9,525 students total in the entire school system and that number had only increased to 15,118 by the time he took over as superintendent in 1991. Since then, Loudoun’s student population has skyrocked to 68,289 students this past year. Here is the full text of Hatrick’s retirement letter:
To: Loudoun County School Board From: Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick III Date: June 11, 2013
Subject: Superintendent Hatrick Announces June 2014 Retirement
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III made the following announcement during the June 11th meeting of the Loudoun County School Board: Members of the Board:
Last night marked the completion of the regular term graduations for all of our high schools. And tonight I stand before you to announce that I will now enter the “Class of 2014” to retire from my position as Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools on June 30, 2014.
And let me begin by doing what I have urged the 4,472 members of the Class of 2013 to do. First and foremost I say “Thank You” to the Loudoun community and to dozens of school board members across many years who have entrusted me with this leadership position in our school system. This work has been an honor that has defined my professional life. For that opportunity I say a heartfelt and sincere “Thank You.”
I wanted to be sure that we had concluded all of our end-of-year activities befo
re making this public announcement, but it is most appropriate that I give you this notice now. This timing will allow the Board a full year to select my successor, a function of the Board described by many experts as the most important decision any school board makes.
When I “graduate” next June I will have completed 23 years as Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools and 47.5 years as an educator in our County. Obviously, over that time I have seen the remarkable growth that characterizes our community. To keep up with the growth of 53,637 more students since 1991, we have constructed 49 additional schools (30 elementary, 10 middle, and 9 high schools) and fully replaced three more elementary schools at Arcola, Ashburn, and Round Hill. This growth in students and school facilities has placed us in the top school systems for growth year after year in Virginia and the nation.
Through the planning efforts of Dr. Adamo and his staff we have been able to accurately project the patterns of student growth and tie those patterns to the locations of new schools. We may not always get our first choice for sites, but we live in the real world. The work of the Department of Support Services, under the leadership of three assistant superintendents in recent years, including Kevin Lewis, has enabled us to have a building program that produces state-of-the-art school facilities at some of the lowest square foot costs in Virginia.
Our prototypical designs have evolved over time, but their f
ocus on being homes for instruction has been laser sharp. Just as focused is our ongoing energy program that has saved almost $50 million in energy costs since its inception.Just coping with that phenomenal growth could have become our primary focus, but the professionals who make up LCPS determined early on that simply accommodating more and more students would not be enough. In every aspect of our operations, from all of our central support to instruction delivered in the classroom, we determined that the true measure of our greatness as a school system would come in the quality of the education we offer our students, not in quantity alone. I cannot think of a single person who is more responsible for our measured, sustainable growth in quality than Assistant Superintendent Sharon Ackerman. She is rightly viewed by her peers as someone who doesn’t get swept up by fads and who demands careful planning for implementing changes that affect our students. She certainly subscribes to the carpenter’s creed that you “measure twice and cut once.” But Mrs. Ackerman would be t
he first one to say that no one in the central office does it alone. Local school administrative teams and staff certainly share leadership for the quality of the instructional program because that is where instruction takes place on a daily basis.
Every principal is first and foremost an instructional leader.We have been pleased to work with many school board members, including five elected boards, who supported this growth in quality. They have been joined by our ever-growing community and members of the board of supervisors in their desire to see Loudoun County Public Schools become a top tier school system. We know that the journey to “great” is never ending, but our students depend on all of us to keep our school system moving forward.
In the past 20 years we have become a “lighthouse” district in almost every area of our operations because the people who lead and work in this school system have all focused on the needs of our students. I believe we have succeeded in “keeping the main thing the main thing.” That doesn’t mean there haven’t been diversions along the way, and sometimes outright resistance to meaningful change, but in the end the needs of students have prevailed, and the wealthiest county in America has invested its resources in the education of its children. We see this greatness in the work of our Personnel Department, led now by Dr. Kim Hough, in helping us to attract and retain the best staff possible. She is joined in support efforts by Assistant Superintendent for Business and Financial Services Leigh Burden, a financial leader recognized across Virginia for her acumen in navigating difficult financial waters without fail.
At the elementary level teachers, principals, and central support personnel have defined a premier reading program, have accommodated increasing demands for testing, have enriched our classrooms with STEM activities, and have dramatically increased the rigor and expanse of educational offerings for our students. From increases in activity-based science to enrichment in the arts to foreign language instruction to the seamless incorporation of technology into every aspect of elementary school life, the people of LCPS have many times received national recognition for meeting the instructional demands of the 21st century. Our emphases on critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication can be found throughout the elementary day, and all students are benefiting from character education, positive behavior intervention systems, and hands-on, experiential education. Our belief that reading is the fundamental skill taught in the primary grades has focused resources on making sure that every student is given the support they need to become fluent readers.
In our middle schools, again with support from central office colleagues, teachers, principals, and staff have worked with parents to develop true learning communities. Our remarkable number of “Schools to Watch” puts us at the top of this indicator of middle school excellence in the nation.
We can credit Director Barbara Nichols for guiding us to this important self and external evaluation measurement process.Course offerings have become more focused and students are challenged to extend themselves through a variety of higher-level courses, many earning high school credits while still in middle school. Again, the common denominator of this success is the extraordinary leadership of principals, teachers, and other staff in working with parents and the greater community to make sure that our middle schools have evolved into the learning communities that meet the unique needs of the ages served.
Perhaps some of the most dramatic changes in recent years have occurred at the high school level. The creation of the unique Academy of Science in 2004 is a symbol of the revolutionary change that has marked secondary education. That opportunity is matched at Monroe Technology Center by our Governor’s STEM Academy, a designation accomplished under the leadership of Director Shirley Bazdar and Principal Wagner Greer. From expansion of world language offerings to dramatic increases in the range of offerings in Advanced Placement courses and in the student participation in those classes in every area of the curriculum to the recent development of mature music programs in guitar and orchestra, the rate of positive change in the last decade has been remarkable—all at a time of huge growth in the numbers of high school students being educated. A culture has been developed where school leaders initiate significant experiences for students such as the International Summit at Dominion High School, where our students and others from countries around the world spend several days in conversation about global issues. As in our middle schools, and even elementary classrooms, science instruction has moved from textbook to hands-on labs and video conferencing with scientists, astronauts, and experts in ways that are allowing our students to compete with their best peers from the region, the state, and the nation.
Our partnerships with area colleges and universities, as well as high tech partnerships with Microsoft, Dell, Intel, Lockheed-Martin, Telos, and many others, assure our students educational opportunities that prepare them for the world they will enter, not the one from which we have come. Our Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program is transforming our computer science classrooms, and the growing Teachers in Industry partnership with George Washington University also provides teachers with real-world business experiences to bring back to their classrooms. And I must particularly recognize the extraordinary support of the Claude Moore Foundation in filling in so many financial gaps and in working with us to develop world-class programs in medicine and medical technology through the Claude Moore Scholars.
At the same time you and we realize that the fast-paced world of Loudoun and Northern Virginia can sometimes leave all of us feeling great pressure. To meet the demands of those pressures our pupil services programs, under the leadership of Dr. Mary Kealy, have grown more and more sophisticated, often being seen as exemplars in the fields of special education, counseling, and mental and physical health. To meet these needs fully we have developed strong working relationships with other County agencies and private practitioners. Our partnerships on behalf of students are chronicled each year as we recognize those in the community who work with our Foundation and School Business Partnership Executive Council to provide remarkable support for our students and schools.
Make no mistake; Loudoun is a leading destination for those who seek excellent education for their children and for those professionals who wish to work in a progressive, student centered school system. Our student and school-to-school partnerships in countries from Germany and Europe to China are opening new worlds for our students. I believe our Culinary Arts exchange with Main-Taunus-Kreis in Germany is trend-setting for exposing all of our students to their career potential around the world.
I can think of only one area in which I believe we are in danger of falling behind, and that is the individual computer devices available to our students. The good news is that at your initiative we have been joined by one of the most experienced leaders in educational technology in the country, Dr. Rich Contartesi. He is using his vast experience to help us finalize plans for introducing individual devices to our schools. And in the meantime many teachers are not waiting for us. They are already encouraging students to bring devices from home, and our parent groups are providing funding for tablets and I-Pads to supplement the technology already in our schools.
I have taken time to outline just some of the major accomplishments of our schools in recent times to make two important points. First, none of this improvement would have been possible without the leadership of the professionals in our school system and the support of our community expressed through its elected School Boards, Boards of Supervisors, and state legislative representatives. Although governance partnerships have been strained in recent years by economic downturns, we now see an improved economy that should help to restore the financial investment in our schools that is necessary if they are to continue to improve as they have in the past. The best measure of financial commitment to our students is the Cost per Pupil. We cannot expect to be among the best when we rank sixth of seven in Cost per Pupil for Northern Virginia. And we cannot expect to continue to be competitive when we invest almost 15 percent less per pupil than our neighbors in Fairfax.
Second, I want to be sure that everyone understands that the journeys to greatness in various quarters of our school system have been purposeful and have taken time. For that large segment of our population who have moved to Loudoun within the past decade, it is reasonable to assume that our schools have always been filled with the opportunities for students we know, and sometimes take for granted, today. The truth is that the work of many over considerable time has been required to produce today’s Loudoun County Public Schools, and we are far from the end of the improvement journey.
Much has occurred on my watch, and I hope will continue to do so for the years ahead, but the truth is that the remarkable increases in quality of the past two decades cannot be attributed to any single individual or even group of individuals. Our success for students has been a direct result of an amazing senior leadership team, most of whom are recognized as among the best in the nation, joined by remarkable and dedicated principals and teaching and support staff, many of whom are also recognized across the state and nation in addition to being revered in their own schools, and a community of parents and business leaders who demand the best for our students.
In the months ahead this Board will devote much time and attention to finding the best available new superintendent for our school system. Please know that you have remarkable talent in the whole Administrative Leadership Team and in the 10,000 employees of our school system who can help you with that search. Our community will also help you to determine the characteristics needed in our next superintendent.
I pledge that I will do all in my power to assure a smooth transition in leadership. Even as you plan for our future, we will be devoting our best efforts to making the 2013-14 school year the best yet in the long history of our school system. As we try to open every available line of communication with our many constituencies, Wayde Byard and the Public Information Office are working around the clock to make sure that your message and the message of LCPS is understood. That communication will be critical to the superintendent search.
On a personal level, I can tell you that my wife and I will continue to live in Loudoun after my retirement next June, and I intend to continue to be a full participant in community and educational activities. The strength of Loudoun County Public Schools is the strength of our community. It has been my privilege to serve as superintendent of schools for 22 years, and I will continue to focus on the future so that our students can have every opportunity they deserve in a community that can richly afford to meet their needs. Finally, I can tell you that I, personally, and all of LCPS have been blessed by the leadership of our Deputy Superintendent Ned Waterhouse. He is the “go to” person for so many aspects of the day-to-day operation of this school system, and we all owe him our gratitude for his dedication to our students.
To the extent that we continue to fulfill our responsibility to our students, Loudoun, Virginia, our Nation, and the world will be better for our efforts. I close where I began, by saying Thank You to Loudoun for allowing me to be part of our wonderful public education journey