Carroll County Public School Superintendent Dr. Strader Blankenship and his wife, Ruby, will be among those fortunate enough to leave dream jobs en route to living out some more dreams.
Dr. Strader Blankenship has announced his resignation, effective July 1, 2017. Blankenship’s educational journey includes 29 years with Carroll County, four years in Wythe County, three years at Scott Memorial, three years at Austinville and five years in Galax, totaling 38 years. He began as a social studies teacher, even teaching sixth grade science.
“I thought what a travesty. Seriously. I thought I’d scarred those kids for life. (Years) Later I went to a graduation at Wytheville Community College for Carroll students graduating with associates degrees before their high school graduation. I had on my doctoral robes and as I was getting ready to give out the Governor’s medals during the presentation this lady walked up to me in a doctoral gown. She said you taught me in sixth grade science. I said, I apologize. She said there is absolutely no reason. I’m Dr. Lorri Huffard in charge of the health sciences here. She said I know at least six kids out of that classroom who are now in science fields. I thought oh, my goodness,” said Blankenship.
He left Galax and went back to Virginia Tech to earn a degree in computer science, working for Volvo White Motor Company for three years.
“I missed kids and teaching so I came back and taught at that time at the Carroll County Intermediate School for about three years. Dr. (Oliver McBride) was the Superintendent and they were getting ready to switch over their computer system from central office in the Carter Building,” Blankenship said. “I took the payroll system from the mainframe and transferred it. I helped disseminate the student information system out of all the schools for quite a few years. Then I became the assistant principal at the high school in 1997 and in the beginning of the 2000 school year when Harold Golding retired I became principal there for two years.”
Next he advanced to an assistant superintendent post for the Division, to later become Superintendent, a post he’s held for five years. He admitted there are times in his current post he misses children, a situation he remedies by visiting a kindergarten class.
“It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you have a kindergartner hanging on your leg calling you the Governor or whatever,” said Blankenship. “I tell you this. I would not be sitting here without Dr. Oliver McBride, who is still a friend, mentor and teacher who taught me so much about people. To this day, he was one of the people I went to consult about this decision. He is one of those rocks in my life who keeps me where I should be. Between him, my parents, my wife and my kid they are why I am who I am.”
He said Ruby will retire the same date. (She is a veteran educator with more than 30 years experience). The two insist it is “just the right time” as the reason for the announcement. Blankenship said they have a number of things they want to do and wish to retire while they feel healthy enough to pursue their “bucket list.” Travel plans include seeing the Northern Lights, New England when the leaves change, Key West, Southern France, Spain, Germany during the Christmas markets, Ireland, Scotland, and England.
“I have a dream job. I work with the best board anywhere. I have the best staff anywhere. The staff here is amazing. They have been very good to me. This was not an easy decision. Ruby had the same feelings but it’s time for us to go and let somebody else do this. In one sense I’m crazy to leave this because I do have a dream job. I love the people. I love the kids. Having been the superintendent of CCPS has been the greatest honor of my professional life,” said Blankenship. “But once again, I have that bucket list and I keep thinking about those things. Ruby and I want to spend time together and do those things. I can’t tell you I won’t miss it terribly. I probably will. But I also heat with wood so I’m sure I have plenty of work to do.”
In a letter to Division educators, Blankenship’s announcement included thanking the Carroll County School Board for its friendship, support and caring. “They are great champions of public education in general and Carroll County Public Schools specifically.”
Blankenship’s retirement is effective July 1, 2017, For Application information, interested people may call Tammy W. Quesenberry, Clerk of the Board, Carroll County Public Schools, 605-9 Pine Street, Hillsville, Virginia 24343 at (276) 730-3200; Fax (276) 730-3210; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Application can also be found on the Division website in both MS Word and PDF format. The application deadline is May 1, 2017.
The Carroll County School Board has developed the following timeline for the superintendent search following the initial announcement of the timeline on March 17:
•March 20, 2017 Advertisement of vacancy
•April 11, 2017 Public hearing for citizen input
•May 1, 2017 Deadline for applications
•May 13-19, 2017 Interviews with candidates
•June 2017 Announcement of person selected
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.