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Grayson names new school chief

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

UPDATED 6/26/12:

INDEPENDENCE — The Grayson County School Board chose a superintendent from Colorado to lead its school division beginning July 1, after a six-month search.
Kevin Chalfant beat out 10 other candidates to take the top administrative job following the retirement of current superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas.
“We are here to appoint a new superintendent,” Chairman Hobert Bailey said during the special called meeting Monday night. “We had a very good application process.”
Bailey said a total of 11 applications were received and the board interviewed five candidates. That list was narrowed to two and second interviews were conducted.
Bailey then made the motion to appoint Chalfant to the position of Grayson County Public Schools Superintendent for a period of four years beginning on July 1 at a beginning salary of $97,500.
The motion was seconded by Misty Cassell and passed unanimously.
Bailey then introduced Chalfant and his wife Debbie, and spoke briefly about his accomplishments.
Chalfant brings with him 36 years of experience in education. He has served as a teacher, coach, athletic director, principal and superintendent during his career.
During his tenure as superintendent of West Grand School District, the district received the Colorado John Irwin School of Excellence Award in 2011, given to the top 8 percent of schools in the category of achievement while closing the achievement gap.
The district also received the Governors Distinguished Improvement Award for the last two years, given to schools with three consecutive years of high growth rates.
“I’m pleased to be here and I appreciate the turnout to meet you folks,” Chalfant said to a room full of school administrators and various other staff members.
Chalfant met twice with the board and said he shared a great deal of interest and concern in regards to the future of Grayson County.
“We hit a chord in areas, especially in student achievement,” he continued.
Chalfant pledged to do his best to communicate with parents, the business community, staff and board members.
Communication begins with listening, Chalfant said, indicating he would listen to the community and find out what citizens want in their public education and do his best to implement what is expected.
The other part of communication is directing the flow of information and being sure parents and those involved in the education system know what information the administration is operating under.
“We want to ensure the graduates of Grayson County get a quality education,” Chalfant added. “The heartbeat of my emphasis has always been student achievement,” not only in academics but also in art, band, music, drama and other areas.
Chalfant said he also planned to work on continuously improving the school division. “My job is to make the principals better so the principals can make the teachers better so the teachers can provide the best quality education for the students,” he added.
His final emphasis is working as a team with the board to make sure they are united in their efforts and direction the county’s education system is headed.
Chalfant said he doesn’t expect any major changes. “Grayson has a good foundation. We want that continuous improvement and to be on the cutting edge in terms of providing our students with a quality education.”
According to a biography on the West Grand School District’s website, Chalfant has a bachelor of arts degree from Trinity College and a masters degree from The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he also obtained his principal and superintendent licenses.
“I have always believed that public education should teach the whole child and be available for all,” Chalfant said in his bio. “This is a huge challenge, but one well worth the effort.”
Chalfant took over as superintendent of West Grand School District in 2009 and tendered his resignation earlier this year according to various media outlets in Colorado. Skyhidailynews.com said the resignation was voluntary and that he planned to “search for a position on the Front Range closer to home.”
Following the meeting, Grayson School Board Member Shannon Holdaway told The Gazette that he was “excited to have a new superintendent who believes in being honest all of the time… not just when it’s convenient.”
The school board began searching for a replacement earlier this year when Thomas — who had served as the chief administrator for six years — announced her retirement. Thomas will officially leave her position on June 30.
The Grayson County School Board was assisted in the search by the Virginia School Boards Association.
In a press release issued following Monday’s meeting, Bailey said “We are very excited that Mr. Chalfant has accepted this position. His leadership and new ideas will help Grayson County continue to be one of the best school systems in Virginia. Mr. Chalfant brings a wealth of experience in the education arena to his new position. He is a student advocate of the first order.”
Chalfant is an active member of his local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, church, Economic Development Committee, local sportsman club and his local American Quarter Horse Association and the American Competitive Trail Horse Association.