Highland School Board Hires Interim Superintendent

In an unusual turn of events, attendees at a Highland County School Board meeting were actually able to get home in time for supper, as the meeting lasted less than a half-hour. The agenda for Monday evening’s specially called meeting was short, with only personnel items to attend to. On that list, the main item was the hiring of an interim superintendent, which the Board voted for unanimously. After the vote, Board Chair Kenny Hodges invited the new hire, Charles Winkler, to introduce himself.

“Mr. Chairman, members of the board, first of all, thank you for the opportunity to come and serve as your interim superintendent. Thank you for the faith that you’ve given me in the little time that we’ve we spent together.”

“I’m Charles Winkler, Chuck Winkler, come with 34 years of education experience. I retired in June from Fluvanna County, was there for five years as superintendent, spent five years there prior as assistant superintendent, and then 24 years prior in Orange County where I started my teaching career in the late 80s.

“My wife is with me tonight, Marlene is also a lifetime educator for 31 years, she taught the gamut. together, we’ve covered just about everything in education.

He continued, “I’m excited to see, I’m hoping, parents, colleagues, community members here tonight. I’ve just been blessed so far, to meet the community. I’m excited about the opportunity. I don’t know a lot about Highland, I’m from West Virginia originally, but when I came down off the mountain last week, week before last, I truly fell in love with the place. And I won’t prolong it, but I believe I’m here for a reason, and I’m excited for that reason. Again, I’m excited to get to know the community, the kids, the staff – I’ll learn what I can, gather all of your strengths and try to build on them. By no means am I coming here to be any “fixer”. I know one of my primary goals is to find a permanent superintendent for you, and I’ll do the best job I can with all the networking capabilities that I have, throughout West Virginia and Virginia.”

“Like I said, I fell in love with the place coming off the mountain, and if I wasn’t truly so happy being blessed in retirement right now. I would strongly consider a long time, if the Board would want to do that. But it’s going to take the right person to be superintendent that you can count on, and I plan to be that for the next three and a half months. But my first thing is to get to know the community, the staff here, the kids, and to work with the Board and see how we can make some improvements.

“Again, just excited and appreciate the opportunity and the faith that you all have in me and if I can help in any way, please just let me know.”

Mr. Winkler was asked by an audience member what his primary responsibilities will be.

“Obviously, look for a replacement –  the budget is the big thing. I understand right now we don’t have a budget, so preparing the budget would probably be my first order of business. – look at, are there any inefficiencies – I’m not implying, and they’re not implying there are any inefficiencies; are there curriculum updates that we may need, and I have instructional background – I was the executive director of instruction when I was in Orange, so look at obviously the curriculum standpoint, there may be inefficiencies within the curriculum, at least better ways to do it.”

“COVID brought a different spin to things, of course – it’s ramped up our technology. I don’t know, do you have any kids that are still virtual, are they all here full time, so looking at that.”

“Transportation – it’s an extremely rural county, are there inefficiencies not implying that there are, again – are there inefficiencies with that? I know you have no A/C but I understand you have an older boiler heater system – can we look at the overall physical plan?”

“I want to try if I can, in the three months, have the greatest, most positive impact on the kids, and that will spill over on the staff.”

“So, that’s it in a nutshell.

The Board also took action on the hiring of a special education director, Dr. Koressa Malcolm, and a substitute teacher. Their next regular meeting will be Thursday, March 10th at 7:00 pm in the school cafeteria.



Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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