New Roanoke school superintendent outlines her plans for the year

First 100 days will focus on listening to the community on what's working and what's not

Verletta White hired as new Roanoke City Public Schools superintendent
Verletta White hired as new Roanoke City Public Schools superintendent

ROANOKE, Va. – After more than a decade with the same superintendent, Roanoke City Public Schools is about to have a new leader. Many are looking at this as a fresh start after calling for change. The new superintendent comes from outside of Virginia and parents and staff want to know what she has planned.

We’re working for you and getting answers about what the next few months looks like.

“I’m just excited. I’m so excited to be here,” said Verletta White, who has big plans when she officially takes over as superintendent of Roanoke City Public Schools on July 1. “In that first 100 days, you will see I have a plan for safety, climate, accountability, looking at the quality of instruction and putting plans into place to embed additional supports for students in school improvement plans as well.”

In her first 100 days she plans to listen and learn from the community and staff going on walking tours into neighborhoods.

“That’s who I am. I am a listening leader. To be a true listening leader means that I am going to spend time in communities, I’m going to spend time with city leaders. I’m going to spend time with parents and with students. I want to hear their concerns. I also want to hear what’s working well,” said White, who says she plans to take those ideas and put them into action but also keep the listening going. “I will always be accessible. Part of who I am means being visible in the community and being accessible to staff members, teachers, principals, administrators who are doing the work every single day for our students.”

She has been looking at data, even when she was a candidate for superintendent. White wants to make sure what worked to bring the graduation rate up continues working, but there are some challenges.

“We need to make sure there is no gap in student achievement between black and white students in terms of reading and mathematics. My focus is on literacy across the content areas to make sure we’re emphasizing reading, writing, listening, speaking, thinking and yes, having students behave in socially-acceptable ways. I believe literacy is the foundation of every single thing that we do. Keep in mind that even when we’re talking about mathematics and science, we’re still talking about comprehension and literacy in those content areas.”

While she has some programs she’s interested in bringing to Roanoke, White says it has to fit for this school system.

But one thing she knows for sure.

“When we have programs that are by teachers, for teachers we do well. We have to trust our teachers to implement programs and ideas that will work best in their classrooms. We have to trust our principals; we have to trust our teachers to make those best decisions. It’s not a program per se, it’s just an action plan that will work best for kids and our teachers know how to get that done,” says White. “My leadership is about making the best decisions for children. All of our conversations have to begin and end with children. My leadership will be based on that.”

She plans to make the first 100 days plan public so you can take a look at it.

She is stopping at eight schools in the first week to listen to the community.

You are welcome to attend any of these events. They will be held outside and you’re asked to practice social distance, and face coverings are strongly encouraged.

Here is the schedule:

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.- Hurt Park Elementary School

1:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.- Roanoke Academy for Mathematics and Science Elementary School

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.- Lincoln Terrace Elementary School

Thursday, July 2, 2020

11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.- John P. Fishwick Middle

1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.- James Breckinridge Middle

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.- Virginia Heights Elementary

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.- Crystal Spring Elementary

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.- Garden City Elementary

The school system says additional opportunities will be scheduled for you to meet superintendent White during the school year.

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