Rabil continues to serve city

Published 11:28 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

FRANKLIN—Wonderful. Astute. Caring. Conscientious. Meticulous. Dedicated.

Those are the words that school officials, local leaders, and former students use to describe Beverly Rabil, a longtime employee of the city school system and, since Oct. 23, the acting superintendent.

Appointed to the post by the school board, Rabil continues to serve the district as the associate director of instruction.

“I think it’s a really good choice by the board,” Mayor Jim Councill said. “They obviously looked at people who have been intimately involved in every aspect of school for many, many years and I think she’ll do an excellent job. I think she’ll do a very conscientious job. I was very pleased.”

School board members also were pleased with their choice.

“She deeply cares about what goes on in our school system,” said Verta Jackson, who represents Ward 5 on the school board. “She cares deeply about the results that we get each year and how it’s affecting our students. And that’s what we need, someone to really care about what’s going on. I think she’s very astute to what’s going on in the school system.”

When asked why the school board picked Rabil, David Benton, an at-large member of the board, said “there were a number of different reasons, but certainly she’s respected by all in the division. She’s had time in all different pieces of the system. She was a classroom teacher for a number of years. She has lots of classroom experience, which helps a great deal when you’re talking about programs and what will work for children and what won’t work.”

Jackson added, “I think they picked her because she’s qualified. She’s very concerned about how our school system is being run, as well as the benefit to the students, and having a stable management structure.”

“Bev deserves accolades,” said Don Spengeman, principal of S.P. Morton Elementary. “I think she’s one of the most meticulous professionals I’ve ever known. She’s a strong believer in public schools and public education.”

Rabil earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Old Dominion University, received a K-12 gifted endorsement through the University of Virginia, and earned an administrative master’s degree from Regent University. Before coming to Franklin, she was a teacher in Southampton County and opened that district’s gifted program, “The Discover Center.”

One of Rabil’s former students at Hunterdale Elementary School, Katrina Carr, was reunited with her in 2005. Carr is the district’s secretary for instruction. Carr said Rabil was her teacher in fifth grade.

“She was my history teacher,” Carr said. “She was a very good teacher. She was the type of teacher you wanted to learn (from). You wanted to hear what she (had to say). You wanted to do good in her class.”

Spengeman said Rabil agreed to serve as acting superintendent while the school board looks for a permanent replacement.

“She was asked and stepped up to it,” Spengeman said. “I think she just felt that at this particular time this was the best way she could serve the students, the staff and the community. So she agreed to do it.”

Rabil said she does not want the superintendent job permanently and is not one of the candidates being considered by the school board for the post.

“My first passion is about instruction,” Rabil said. “I love looking at what will work in a classroom, what won’t work, how do you make it work, what makes a class ‘click,’ including a whole dynamic between the teacher and the kids.”

“I think superintendents may not get the time, that may not be their daily job,” she added, “where in my role (as associate director of instruction), that is part of my job, helping to see how instruction rolls out.

“I love the instructional end of it. I feel like, right or wrong, that’s where my talents lie.”

Spengeman echoed Rabil’s sentiments.

“No, (the superintendent job) is not something she desires,” Spengeman said. “Not to say the superintendent can’t be involved with the kids and involved with the everyday instructional program. But it’s very difficult the higher up you get to stay in touch with that.”

The district has been without an official superintendent since Bill Pruett retired in September. The board hopes to have a new superintendent by January.

Rabil had some advice for the person who will eventually be tapped as superintendent.

“Know us,” she said. “Know the people in your building, in the town, be a part of them.”

“I hope the person that we find will have a lot of energy and bring to us that energy and stay with us,” she said.

When asked if she thought the new superintendent should live in Franklin, Rabil said, “I have really struggled with that question. Truly, I have.”

“State to state, a lot of the federal requirements are the same, but the state accreditation process is different,” Rabil said. “So that will be a learning curve for someone from out of state. The flip side of that is they’ll bring with them a wealth of experiences that may add to what we have here.”

But if Rabil changed her mind and decided to pursue a superintendent position, many believe she would be successful.

“Well, if she chose to take that road, I do believe that she would be (hired),” Jackson said.

Spengeman concurred. “I don’t think it would be a bad idea if she did (apply), because I think she’s got the knowledge and the skills for it,” he said.