New school year, new principals at 14 Richmond schools
Ronald E. Carrington | 8/30/2019, 6 a.m.
Fourteen new principals will lead public schools in Richmond when the school year starts next week.
The appointments are designed to help Richmond Public Schools move toward greater accreditation. Currently, only 19 of the city’s 44 schools are fully accredited.
RPS now has a mix of veteran administrators who have been named teacher or principal of the year in their previous school systems; have turned around poor performing schools where a majority of students are from low-income families; and have experience in English as a second language and/or worked in Spanish-speaking countries.
Officials said the entire group of new principals consistently has worked closely with their school communities to improve communications.
The administration looked for administrators working in environments similar to RPS and demonstrating success. Each of the new principals was vetted through a rigorous, seven-step selection process, including panel interviews with teachers, staff and community members and formal interviews with RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras and members of the RPS leadership team.
“First and foremost, we were looking for principals that could lead with love,” Mr. Kamras told the Free Press. “That means creating a culture in the schools that is positive and affirming, not just for students, but also for the staff.
“For example,” he said, “Greene Elementary, where 90 percent of the families speak Spanish as their native language, wanted to prioritize candidates speaking their language.”
This marks the third straight year that nearly a quarter of city schools have been appointed a new principal.
The schools and their new principals:
• Bellevue Elementary School — V. Tanaia Hines: A former assistant principal in Norfolk Public Schools, Ms. Hines served in a school with an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. Previously, she spent nine years as an elementary schoolteacher after earning a bachelor’s in kinesiology and exercise science from Old Dominion University and a master’s in secondary education and school administration from Cambridge College.
• Blackwell Elementary School — Dr. Teresa K. Anderson: A Navy veteran, Dr. Anderson has been a school administrator since 2007. Prior to her appointment, she served as an associate prin- cipal at Blackwell. She also is a former principal at Bertie High School in North Carolina and a school administrator in St. Cloud, Minn. She also has worked for the Waukegan Public Schools and the Chicago Public Schools in Illinois. Dr. Anderson has a bachelor’s in English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, a master’s in education from Barat at DePaul University, a master’s in educational leadership from East Carolina University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Fayetteville State University.
• Fairfield Court Elementary School — Dr. Demetri Sermons: A former school leader in Wilmington, Del., and principal in the District of Columbia Public Schools, Dr. Sermons also has served as a gifted education specialist, a testing coordinator, advanced placement coordinator and chair of a high school English department in Georgia. The Valdosta, Ga., native has a bachelor’s in English and French education from Troy University, a master’s in education and an educational specialist degree from Central Michigan University and a doctorate in education from Liberty University.
• George Mason Elementary School — Kimberly Cook: A former elementary school principal in Fairfax County, Ms. Cook was nominated for that system’s First Year Principal of the Year award four years ago. She began her career in Richmond Public Schools as a kindergarten teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School. She has a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in teaching from Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as a master’s in educational leadership from George Mason University.
• Ginter Park Elementary School — L. Michelle Jones: Prior to her appointment, Ms. Jones served an academic interventionist at Overby-Sheppard Elementary School supporting students’ academic achievement and social growth and increasing teacher efficacy. She previously served as a principal in Caroline County and of an elementary school in Dinwiddie County. She has a bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Fayetteville, a master’s in administration and supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s in special education from the University of Phoenix.
• George Wythe High School — Dr. Joseph Pisani: The former principal at Massaponax High School in Spotsylvania County and Washington & Lee High School in Westmoreland County has been nominated numerous times for Virginia’s Principal of the Year. He previously also worked as a building principal, associate principal and social studies teacher in New York, where he was named 2002 Teacher of the Year for his school district. He has a master’s in education and a postgraduate degree in school district administration from Dowling College and a doctorate in educational leadership from Capella University.
• E.S.H. Greene Elementary School — Dr. Juvenal Abrego-Meneses: A former high school and elementary school assistant principal, Dr. Abrego-Meneses has worked in education for 18 years, including as coordinator of a migrant education program. He began his career teaching English to speakers of other languages in Panama and spent 12 years as a high school ESL and Spanish teacher. He has worked previously with the state Department of Education and as director of the Governor’s School Residential Program for Gifted and Talented Students in Region 8. He has a bachelor’s in bilingual education for the National University of Panama; a master’s in English education and creative writing from Longwood University; a graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESOL, and in Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language; an education specialist degree in K-12 administration and supervision from Virginia Tech; and a doctorate in educational policy, planning and leadership from the College of William & Mary.
• Henderson Middle School — Antoine London: A former assistant principal at middle schools in Suffolk, Mr. London has worked for 11 years in Hampton Roads, including as a teacher. He was recognized as Teacher of the Year at one of his previous schools. He has a bachelor’s in business education from Norfolk State University and a master’s in educational leadership from Regent University.
• John Marshall High School — Monica Murray: Prior to her appointment, Ms. Murray served as assistant principal at Armstrong High School. She also taught for 22 years in Richmond Public Schools and was named a finalist for RPS Teacher of the Year and for the R.E.B. Awards for Teaching Excellence. She has a bachelor’s from Virginia Union University and a master’s and certificate in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.
• Overby-Sheppard Elementary School — Shayla Holeman: Prior to her appointment, Ms. Holeman served as principal for an elementary school in Durham, N.C. She also was an elementary school principal in Person County, N.C., where she was named Principal of the Year for the school system. She began her teaching career with Richmond Public Schools. She has a bachelor’s in English and philosophy from the University of Virginia, an MBA from Strayer University and a post master’s in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.
• Richmond Community High School — Kenya E. Massenburg: Ms. Massenburg served as interim principal at Richmond Community during the 2018-19 school year. Previously, she served as an assistant principal and an associate principal in Henrico County. She has a bachelor’s in sociology and a master’s in education from Virginia State University and a master’s in educational leadership from George Washington University.
• Thomas Jefferson High School — Cherita Holland Sears: Prior to her appointment, Ms. Sears served as both principal and assistant principal at Albert H. Hill Middle School. She previously served as dean of students at Meadowbrook High School in Chesterfield County following a 13-year career teaching English in Richmond and Chesterfield schools. She has a bachelor’s in English education from Old Dominion University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Liberty University.
• Albert Hill Middle School — Tashiana Ivy: Prior to her appointment, Ms. Ivy served as assistant principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. She taught math and science for 11 years in Richmond middle and high schools. She has a bachelor’s in biology from Spelman College and a master’s in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.
• George Washington Carver Elementary School — Tiawana Giles: Prior to her appointment, Ms. Giles served as interim principal at Carver during the 2018-19 school year. She has spent more than 18 years in education, including serving as assistant principal at Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School. She is an Army veteran. She has a bachelor’s in elementary education from Chaminade University, a master’s in reading education from Bowie State University and a postgraduate certificate in educational leadership from the University of Richmond.