New schools leader off and running

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, April 22, 2009

FRANKLIN — Dr. Michelle Rich Belle had a busy but enjoyable day Monday, her first as the new superintendent for Franklin City Public Schools.

The day started off at J.P. King Middle School.

“It was wonderful,” Belle said. “I went over to the middle school at 7:35 and talked to the kids. I welcomed them back from their spring break, and I encouraged them to do their best on their SOL tests. They had a kickoff ceremony for the SOL tests. I also thanked the teachers for all that they do.”

Belle said she then returned to the central office to work on the budget, with the goal of having it approved by the school board at its meeting Thursday night at S.P. Morton Elementary School.

After some time on the budget, she visited students and teachers at Franklin High School in the afternoon. She plans to visit S.P. Morton on Wednesday.

Asked how the transition has gone so far, Belle said it was going great.

“Bev (Rabil) and Deb (Smith) have been wonderful,” she said, referring to the division’s associate director of instruction and payroll specialist, respectively. “They have really gone over and above expectations.”

Belle said that she is looking forward to meeting more parents, teachers and students, and added that she is a “sports fanatic.”

“I’m going to be at the games,” she said. “I’m looking forward to them.”

School personnel, students and parents will have an opportunity to meet Belle at a Meet-and-Greet event scheduled from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday in the S.P. Morton cafeteria. The school board meeting will follow.

Before coming to Franklin, Belle worked as the assistant superintendent for human resources in the Cumberland County Public Schools division. She has also been a teacher, an assistant principal and a principal at the high school level in her 15 years with Cumberland County. She has also served as the director of Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a program that helps underachieving middle and high school students, and has worked with the Office of Minority Achievement.

Belle received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from Seton Hall University, Master of Education in Career and Technical Education degree from Virginia State University, and Educational Leadership Endorsement from Longwood University.

In December 2006, Belle became the first recipient of a doctoral degree from Virginia State when she received her Doctor of Education in Administration and Supervision degree.

Belle and her husband, Alfonso, have two sons, Diamand and Jule, and a daughter, Ivana. Jule is a junior scholar-athlete at Cumberland High School and the Governor School of Southside Virginia, and Ivana attends Virginia Commonwealth University, where she plays volleyball.