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West Virginia Educator Named Staunton School Superintendent - May 30

Staunton City Public Schools


P.O. Box 900 · 116 West Beverley Street, Staunton, VA 24402-0900

Phone 540-332-3920 · Fax 540-332-3920

News Release

Contact: Angela Whitesell, School Board Chair May 30, 2007

(540) 886-6543

West Virginia Educator Named Staunton School Superintendent

Dr. Steven Nichols will become Superintendent July 1.

The Staunton City School Board has named Dr. Steven Nichols as the new Superintendent of Staunton City Schools effective July 1. Nichols replaces Harry Lunsford who is retiring.

Nichols received his doctorate from the University of Virginia and has served as Superintendent of Schools for Jefferson County WV for the past five years. He has worked in the field of education for 35 years in the areas of administration, curriculum and instruction. Dr. Nichols taught at the elementary and middle school levels and served as an assistant principal at the high school level. In addition, he has been a principal at the elementary, middle and high school levels. At the administrative level, he has served as the Director of Instruction, a member of the senior curriculum staff, and as Assistant Superintendent.

"We are delighted to have Dr. Nichols come on board to lead our school system." said Ophie Kier, vice-chairman of the Staunton School Board. "We feel he will be a great asset to our community as well as to our schools."

The selection of Nichols culminates an extensive search process undertaken by the Staunton School Board. The process included surveying the public, a public hearing, and consultation with the Virginia School Boards Association. Ultimately the Board received 19 applications from persons in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio. Nine were invited in for interviews, then three were called in for a second interview. The three finalists gave presentations to school central office administrators and school principals and assistant principals.

The School Board then surveyed participating staff and used that input, and the extensive public input in their deliberations before selecting Nichols for the post.

"The responsibility of selecting a superintendent is, perhaps, the most important decision a School Board makes,” said School Board member Dr. Lee Hersch. “We were very fortunate to have had a number of good candidates to consider. We were guided in our decision by input from the entire community through more than 500 parent and community surveys, and from school division educators and administrators.”

Hersch said, "We emphasized the importance of finding a leader who could help create a vision for continuous improvement in Staunton City School programs. We also were seeking a good communicator, someone who could communicate effectively with parents, teachers, administrators, city officials and the students.”

"We were particularly impressed that Dr. Nichols has gone to the schools in his current administrative post," Hersch said. "He visited the schools weekly to witness teaching and learning in the classroom.”

"Finally, we were looking for a consensus builder, someone who would help bring out the talents and teamwork in all our division's employees." Hersch said. "The Board feels Dr. Nichols meets these criteria.”

Nichols has made professional presentations to the National Middle School Association, the Virginia Department of Education, the Governor's Conference on Education, the Virginia School Board Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the American Association of School Administrators on topics including curriculum, student development, assessment and law. He has served as a consultant to many school systems in the eastern U.S. and is an author and researcher in the areas of shared decision-making and the group dynamic process of leadership.

Currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia in the area of educational law, he has served four years as Chairman of the Virginia Region IV Instructional Leaders Consortium, a group providing instructional planning for the 22 school districts in Northern Virginia.

Nichols received the prestigious University of Virginia – Phi Delta Kappa Educational Leadership Award in 1999. He has served as president of the University's Phi Delta Kappa and serves on several University committees and boards. Nichols was selected to be a participant in the March 2007 International Conference on Educational Leadership and Ethics held at Oxford University.

While in West Virginia, Nichols served as a member of the Jefferson County Economic Development Authority, the Board of Directors of the Old Opera House, the Board of Directors of the United Way of Jefferson County, the Lions Club, and numerous professionally related organizations.

In addition to his work with public education, Nichols holds a degree in American Civil War history, and conducts research into that period of history—a life-long interest that began in his college years while he was employed as a Park Ranger with the U.S. National Park Service.

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