PRESS RELEASE – November 9, 2016

On November 9, 2016, the Fluvanna County School Board voted to approve the resignation of Ms. Gena Cook Keller, Superintendent of Fluvanna County Public Schools effective January 1, 2017. Ms. Keller will move to the Virginia Department of Education as Coordinator for Professional Development.

Ms. Keller is in her seventh year as Superintendent of Fluvanna, 37th year in public education, and was recently named Region V Superintendent of the Year for 2016 by her colleagues. Ms. Keller has led the school division to realize significant improvement despite years of compromised financial resources. Ms. Keller cites community support, advocacy of the school board, positive relationships with the members of the Board of Supervisors, and the commitment of the teachers, staff, and students for the gains that have been made. “Nothing sustainable occurs without a collaborative, focused effort,” stated Ms. Keller. “We are in a time of challenging and exciting changes in the public education arena. I am proud of our current staff and the degree of commitment they provide every single day for each of our students. Fluvanna is fortunate to have such a bright, caring, and passionate group of educators and staff. I know that Fluvanna County Public Schools will continue the momentum and deepen the positive impact for our community.”

In looking back, Ms. Keller stated that, while not all inclusive, there are many achievements to be celebrated as a result of her work with the Fluvanna County School Board as follows:

• Significantly increased enrichment opportunities for all students through partnerships with Piedmont Virginia Community College, 4-H, Parks and Recreation, local civic groups, Rotary and local businesses;
• Provided support for the implementation of Fluvanna’s participation in the Medford League where students with special needs are engaged in extra-curricular basketball and track and field opportunities;
• Implemented a replacement cycle for technological tools and securing additional Information Technology Resource Teachers, thus strengthening the instructional methodologies used in the classroom;
• Increased opportunities in STEM through securing an i3 Federal Grant of $3m in partnership with Albemarle County Public Schools and Charlottesville City Public Schools. This grant assisted Fluvanna County Public Schools in offering computer science, as well as automation and robotics at the middle school;
• Secured a grant through the partnership with Rotary and support from the Rose Deborah Altschull Endowment for Youth to establish a STEAM Maker Space for our youngest students at West Central and Central Elementary School;
• Established a budget process that is meaningful, transparent, relevant to our strategic plan, user friendly and supports our commitment to equity;
• Bolstered the “quality of life” for our staff through increased personal days, implementation of a sick bank, increased payout for unused sick days, implementation of tuition reimbursement and expansion of the definition of “family” to be more relevant as it applies to bereavement leave;
• Strengthened our literacy and math programs through vetted models of instruction; thus having all schools fully accredited for three years in a row (1 of 22 in 2014-15 and 1 of 37 in 2015-16 and 1 of 39 school divisions of 132 divisions state-wide in 2015-2016);
• Maintained competitive salaries and benefits for all staff despite the toughest economic downturn that many of us have faced;
• Increased after school and summer opportunities for all students through Destination Imagination, Kids College, Terrific Tuesdays, Extended Ed, and Hands on Fluvanna, to name a few;
• Implemented after-school transportation for students in order to increase participation and engagement of a more diverse group of students in after school activities;
• Implemented the US Flucos Initiative as a means of outreach to students needing additional academic and/or socio-emotional support, as well as exposure to college site visits;
• Realized gains in math and reading performance; specifically seeing significant gains for students at the middle school;
• Increased the diversity of participants for rigorous programs, such as Governor’s School;
• Implemented a means of screening (Nagliari) all first graders for identification as gifted;
• Strengthened our evaluation and feedback system for all staff;
• Created job descriptions and salary scales for all positions and/or categories of personnel;
• Showed increase in positive feedback as gleaned from staff surveys from 2010-2016 indicating a positive change in our culture;
• Revitalized our mission and vision statement to articulate a relevant focus for our 21st century learners;
• Formalized the use of social media to better inform our stakeholders and brand our school system through the creation of the Social Media and Communication Project Team;
• Fostered positive working relationships with the Board of Supervisors by establishing bi-monthly breakfast meetings to include the chair from the Board of Supervisors, School Board and the superintendent and County Administrator in an effort to share information related to initiatives;
• Strengthened our community partnerships with local civic groups and implemented the first Interact Club at Fluvanna County High School through our relationship with Rotary;
• Successfully opened a state of the art high school facility; offering our students relevant college and career readiness pathways while increasing CTE Certification opportunities;
• Established an MOU in partnership with the local sheriff’s department and secured additional School Resource Officers for our schools;
• Increased extra-curricular opportunities for students through Drama, Theatre, and Fine Arts competitions;
• Supported our students participating at the National Forensics Competition in 2015-16;
• Decreased our drop-out rate to 0% for our black males in 2014-15 and 2015-16;
• Continued to surpass the statewide graduation rate;
• And was twice recognized by US World and News Report with a national rating of “Silver” for our programs and accomplishments at Fluvanna County High School.

Ms. Camilla Washington, Chair for the Fluvanna County School Board, stated, “The degree of dedication and commitment that Ms. Keller possesses for all students in Fluvanna County is evident by the lists of accomplishments within our division. Together, we have been able to lay a strong foundation to align curriculum, develop operational efficiencies, build community partnerships and offer equitable academic and technical education opportunities for our students. I am proud of the accomplishments we have made and know that she will be successful in her new position. The Virginia Department of Education is fortunate to have Ms. Keller join their team.”
In addition to accepting the resignation of Ms. Gena Keller, the Board voted to approve the appointment of Mr. Chuck Winkler, current assistant superintendent, to Interim Superintendent effective January 1, 2017. Mr. Winkler brings over 28 years of experience in public education and is in his 6th year as assistant superintendent for Fluvanna. Mr. Winkler has been a teacher, assistant principal, elementary and middle school principal, director of elementary instruction and federal programs and assistant superintendent.
Ms. Washington also stated that the board will begin discussions as they carefully consider the extensive process of selecting a full-time division superintendent for the 2017-2018 school year.