School chief not retiring after all

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Dr. Elizabeth Thomas, just named superintendent of the year for Southwest Virginia, is a candidate for a job in Alabama. She is leaving the Grayson school system this summer,

By Ben Bomberger, Reporter


INDEPENDENCE — Outgoing Grayson Schools Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas is among five finalists for the superintendent position at Decatur City Schools in Alabama.
Thomas announced this past January her intentions to retire this summer, following the current school year.
In an e-mail to The Gazette last week, Thomas said she had “intended to retire and ride horses. However, a representative from BWP, a superintendent search firm, contacted me concerning the Decatur City Schools position.”
It was the prestige of the job that intrigued Thomas, who said the school district is “very impressive, with a strong focus on providing excellent educational opportunities for their students.”
Because of that, Thomas said she sent in her application.
“It is my understanding that Decatur City Schools is one of the best school districts in Alabama, so I feel very honored to be among the finalists for their superintendent’s position,” Thomas added.
Thomas is one of five finalists for the position according to DecaturDaily.com and will spend a day in Decatur touring the city and participating in a public interview on May 1.
In a letter to Grayson County faculty and staff members this past January, Thomas said she has “had the privilege to work with a highly professional, student-centered administrative team and exceptional teachers and support staff who have the best interests of students as their top priority” over the past six years as the school system’s top administrator.
She added in the letter that she was “very appreciative of and thankful to those school board members who supported our efforts to provide the best educational opportunities possible for all the wonderful students in our county.”
The Grayson School Board is accepting applications through April 20 for the soon-to-be vacant position.

Thomas named superintendent of the year for Southwest Virginia

Dr. Elizabeth Thomas, superintendent for Grayson County Public Schools, has been named the 2012 Superintendent of the Year in Region VII by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.
“The school system and community in Grayson County is very fortunate to have a school leader of Dr. Thomas’s caliber,” chairman of the selection committee Dr. Lee Brannon said in the announcement. “She always has student achievement and success as her top priority.”
Region VII is composed of 19 school divisions in Southwest Virginia.
Thomas expressed appreciation of the honor, but emphasized that “everyone working together was the true ingredient for a high performing school system and student success.”
This award “is a reflection of our outstanding students and the exceptional teachers, support staff, and administrators in our school division,” Thomas said.
“By working together, we have truly made phenomenal progress for the school system and the young people we serve,” she said, noting that Grayson has increased student achievement by taking schools from 44 percent to 100 percent in full accreditation and earning state awards.
“We have expanded the preschool program to provide instruction to more children, implemented reading intervention programs, and provided after-school enrichment programs at several schools,” Thomas said. “At the high school level, we have successfully implemented an associate degree program, increased student attainment of industry certifications, and developed new career and technical programs. Our action plans have resulted in increases in student graduation rates and decreases in student drop-out rates.
“In addition, the first phase of our long-range facility improvement plan is complete with one new school in the Grant community and a school renovation and addition in Fries.”
Thomas is one of eight regional superintendents of the year to be honored at the VASS annual conference in May. One will be selected as the Virginia Superintendent of the Year at the VASS conference next month.