Southampton schools chief excited for opportunity

Published 9:39 am Friday, May 11, 2012

COURTLAND—For Dr. Alvera Parrish, becoming superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools will be a new challenge that will give her “a great opportunity to soar.”

“I’m always looking to embellish upon what is already there,” said Parrish, who on July 1 will replace retiring Superintendent Charles Turner. “I think Southampton has done some great things.”

When Parrish was hired as superintendent of Petersburg Public Schools two years ago, none of its seven schools was accredited by the state. Today, three have earned the status, while another three have reached the level for accreditation, she said.

“To bring about change, I believe in working on the culture in the school division as well in the teacher population and administration,” Parrish said. “All children can learn.”

The Southampton County School Board in April voted unanimously to hire the 54-year-old Lawrenceville native. She will be paid $131,000 annually, which is the same salary as Turner, who is retiring in June after 13 years at the helm.

Parrish was one of three finalists among 18 who applied from the job.

Petersburg School Board member Dr. Kenneth Lewis called Parrish an excellent instructional person who will be missed.

“She’s clearly a master of classroom instruction,” Lewis said. “She incorporated that into her daily leadership. She did an excellent job.”

Lewis’ colleague Bernard Lundy would only say “at this present time, our concentration is on getting a new superintendent.”

Parrish and her four siblings are administrators in public education. Three are principals and the other works on federal programs.

“We are saturated in education,” she said.

Parrish earned her undergraduate degree from Saint Paul’s College, master’s degree from Norfolk State University and doctorate from Virginia Tech.

“I started off as a teacher and moved through the system,” she said. “I think that was very beneficial for me, and it has been very rewarding for me to have had quite a successful career.”

Parrish taught elementary school in Brunswick County and Portsmouth. While in Portsmouth, she was involved with helping teachers become more effective.

Parrish then went to Greensville County, where she taught middle school and later served as director of staff development and principal of Greensville High School.

“I created an entire professional development program centered around effective teaching practices that was quite effective,” she said.

Parrish served as assistant superintendent in Petersburg before being named superintendent.

She said she had been considering Southampton County because she likes its program and how the district has grown.

Parrish and her husband, Anthony, have a 28-year-old son, Anthony, who lives in Fredericksburg. The senior Anthony Parrish works for the state Department of Corrections in Southampton County. The couple plans to move to Western Tidewater.