By: Meredith Baker, Staff Writer
Appeared In: September 6, 2017 edition
DINWIDDIE – Dinwiddie County students are heading back to school this week, and Dr. Kari Weston will be beginning her first school year as superintendent. Weston said that her top goal for the school division is student learning, making sure that every student is successful.
“That’s the biggest goal,” Weston said. “I think that beyond that would be to ensure that Dinwiddie Public Schools is a place where people want to come to work, and it’s a place where people can do their best work, and that means students can do their best work and that means adults can do their best work, and it’s a place where people wake up every morning and can’t wait to get here, and they leave better because they’ve been here.”
The division has planned for 4,290 students this year, and Weston said that she expects the division to reach its goal, reversing a recent trend of declining enrollment.
The division has hired about thirty new teachers, but Weston said there are still a couple of vacant positions, though the division has a plan in place to deal with the vacancies.
She said it can be challenging to find talented teachers, especially for special education, science, foreign language, and math positions, and the challenge is state-wide.
“We’re all vying for the same people,” Weston said. “We want smart people; we want talented people.”
Unlike some area school divisions, Dinwiddie does not have a major problem finding drivers for all of its buses. Weston said the division is always looking for good bus drivers, but they can run all of the routes with the current drivers.
The division held its second annual two-day iDCPS professional development conference for all employees, but this year the conference included a special announcement to start the school year on a high note.
The official accreditation ratings have not yet been released by the Virginia Department of Education, but Weston said that the division expects every school to be fully accredited this year.
This would be the first time since 2010 that all of the county’s schools earned full accreditation.
“If you could have been in that room at that moment, just the energy from every person in the room just erupted in cheer and hugging each other and high-fiving each other,” Weston said.
Weston encourages parents and other members of the community to partner with the school division to help make sure that students are successful.
“Our doors are open, and we welcome people and talents and ideas and thoughts and comments,” Weston said.
Weston said she is both humbled and excited to serve as the division’s new superintendent.
“I’m so excited because I get to do work that I love,” Weston said. “I get to work alongside people that I think are pretty smart and pretty fun to come to work with every day… who feel passionate about the same things that I feel passionate about, who care about kids and care about this county, and who really want to stand side by side to make this the greatest place to be, the greatest place to live and to work, and who want to ensure that every one of our young people has that education of a lifetime.”