Grayson school board honors Thomas

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Superintendent will depart on June 30.

By Ben Bomberger, Reporter


INDEPENDENCE – Outgoing Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas was honored earlier this month as she prepares to leave her post June 30.
School Board Member Wynn Combs presented Thomas with a plaque and took some time to recognize the accomplishments the school system saw under Thomas' leadership the last six years.
Combs said when the board began interviewing candidates, the consensus was that they needed someone who was "honest and had a vision."
During Thomas' interview with the school board, her answer to the first question asked was that she was "honest and had a vision for Grayson County Public Schools."
Thomas’ achievements during the last six years include:
• developed and implemented a strategic action plan, resulting in fundamental changes in instructional system and significant improvement of student achievement.
• re-structured central office personnel positions resulting in increased efficiency and reduced administrative costs.
• led staff development and implemented accountability measures resulting in increased state accreditation of district schools from 44 percent to 100 percent.
Division schools gained up to 42 percentage points on English and mathematics performance as evidenced by AYP status report.
• expanded and designed innovative educational opportunities for students, including pre-school, virtual learning, associate degree at secondary level, career and technical programs and after-school programs.
Division elementary schools received numerous awards and recognition from the Virginia Board of Education.
• created the Grayson County Teacher of the Year program to honor, recognize and promote exemplary instructors.
• increased graduation rate and decreased student drop-out rate.
• implemented Effective School Discipline across the district, resulting in up to 70 percent decrease in discipline referrals.
• successfully combined schools resulting in improved educational services and significant operational savings.
• negotiated funding approval for school construction projects with improved community infrastructure to include public water, broadband and three-phase electricity.
• completed two new state-of-the-art Pre K-7 school facilities to improve learning environments for students: Grayson Highlands School and Fries School.
• attained multi-millions of dollars in grant awards and funding from state and federal sources, including $3.6 million for Southwest Virginia through legislative advocacy efforts.
Along with Thomas’ accomplishments during her tenure as superintendent, Combs also listed numerous professional activities and awards she achieved during the last six years, including:
• American Association of School Administrators governing board member
• Superintendent's Leadership Advisory Council, advisory member to state superintendent of public instruction
• Virginia Association of School Superintendents, board of directors
• Virginia Tech School of Education advisory board member
• District Administration National Magazine advisory panel member
• Superintendent's Study Group for Region VII, chairperson
• Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium, executive board member
• Cooperative Centers for Exceptional Children, chairperson/board of directors
• Crossroads Institute, board of directors
• Crossroads Institute Technical and Entrepreneurial Studies Committee, chairperson
• Economic Development Committee, appointed by Grayson County Board of Supervisors
• Chestnut Creek School of Arts, advisory board member
• Super Eight Advisory Committee for Governor's Pre-School Initiative, member
• Superintendent of the Year, Region VII, 2012
• Extra-Yard Award from Fries Wildcat Sports Convention
“Dr. Thomas has accomplished a lot in a short period of time," Combs said, thanking her for "promising a lot and delivering even more" to the students of Grayson County.
After receiving the plaque, Thomas had a few words of her own.
"It has been such an honor and privilege to serve Grayson County Schools and the children of this county," Thomas said. "I haven't accomplished all of those on my own, of course. It's been a team effort. We've had an outstanding team of administrators and school staff and faculty that made all of those things happen."
Thomas commended "all of the employees of the school system and the school board members for their support of a high quality education for every student in the school system."