Former FCPS admin honored as Virginia Superintendent of the Year

Published 1:25 pm Monday, May 16, 2022

Dr. Walter “Rick” Clemons, superintendent of Gloucester County Schools and a former administrator for Franklin City Public Schools, was named Virginia Superintendent of the Year at the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) Annual Awards Luncheon on May 2 in Roanoke. 

Walter “Rick” Clemons

A VASS press release continued by noting that Clemons was selected by the presidents of the Virginia Board of Education, the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia Parent and Teacher Association, the Virginia School Boards Association, the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, and the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, and the president, president-elect and secretary/treasurer of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

Clemons’ leadership addressing the challenges his school division faced during the pandemic served as an example for other school divisions in Virginia, officials said in the release. He skillfully balanced the tension in his community between those with concerns for the learning and social needs of Gloucester’s students and those with concerns for the health and safety of the students, staff and the community at large. His division was one of the first in the region to return to in-person learning through a phased-in hybrid approach combining both virtual and in-person learning.

Recently, Clemons has been successful de-escalating tensions around divisive issues that have challenged many communities by emphasizing doing what’s best for students, being transparent about the division’s curriculum and teaching resources, and providing a public forum for community members to express their opinions. The publication of library resources on the school division’s website and the organization of a “town hall” meeting are just two examples of strategies he has employed to reduce local anxieties over potentially divisive issues.

In presenting Dr. Clemons with the Virginia Superintendent of the Year Award, VASS President Zeb Talley said, “Rick has done an outstanding job representing all Virginia educators as a staunch advocate for the state’s public school students. He is a skillful leader who stands firm in doing what is best for students while providing everyone in his community with the opportunity to share their opinions about what quality public education means.”

Clemons’ highly capable leadership in Virginia is a function of his broad experiences as an education administrator in five different school divisions. He started his administrative career as an assistant middle school principal in Newport News Public Schools in 1996 before working as an assistant high school principal in Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District and then serving five years as a high school principal in Franklin. 

He continued in Franklin as the school division’s assistant superintendent before accepting his first superintendent position in Northampton County, where he served for three years before his current post as superintendent of Gloucester County Schools, where he has remained for the past eight years. 

As Virginia Superintendent of the Year, Clemons will be eligible for the National Superintendent of the Year Award, which will be presented next February in San Antonio, Texas, by the American Association of School Administrators.  

The Regional Superintendents of the Year included the following:

  • Region I – William D. Sroufe, Division Superintendent, Colonial Heights City;
  • Region II – Victor D. Shandor, Division Superintendent, York County;
  • Region III – Walter R. Clemons, Division Superintendent, Gloucester County;
  • Region IV – Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., Division Superintendent, Alexandria City;
  • Region V – Eric W. Bond, Division Superintendent, Augusta County;
  • Region VI – Mark L. Miear, Division Superintendent, Montgomery County;
  • Region VII – Keith S. Perrigan, Division Superintendent, Bristol City; and
  • Region VIII – Kristy N. Somerville-Midgette, Division Superintendent, Brunswick County.