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Sterling, Shannon named superintendents of the year

Franklin City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling, Southampton County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon — and their counterparts in Virginia’s 130 other public school divisions — have all been named superintendent of the year for 2020-2021.

The Virginia School Boards Association and Virginia Association of School Superintendents recently decided all state public school superintendents would be honored for their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sterling was recognized at the city School Board’s April 1 meeting.

“You’re our superintendent of the year every year,” said Franklin School Board Chairwoman Amy Phillips.

“I couldn’t do the work I do without the people that I’m looking at right now,” Sterling replied. “From the teachers to the staff and administrators, it matters having people that have a vision to make certain that our children receive the best possible education there is. This is not just my recognition; this is a recognition for our entire school division.”

“I consider it an honor to be one of the superintendents who was named Superintendent of the Year,” Shannon added. “I believe that sharing this distinction with my colleagues is fitting, considering that we all had to do the unthinkable during an unimaginable time when the outlook was extremely bleak and unpredictable. It has rarely been broadly acknowledged outside of the educational arena that superintendents played an integral role during the COVID-19 pandemic by leading the charge for providing resources to the community during a time of many unknowns and without regard to their personal safety at times.”

“Every teacher teaching virtually was not in our purview in early 2020; nevertheless, every teacher quickly became a virtual teacher because of our commitment to students having some semblance of normalcy or social interaction during the pandemic,” Shannon said. “Some of the decisions that I have made during the pandemic have not been popular, but if those decisions meant saving one child or one adult’s life, I would make it again in a heartbeat. As we move forward in this new age, my greatest concern will continue to be for the health and safety of our students, staff, parents, and community.”