As the chief education leader of her small impoverished school division, Dr. Hackney faced many challenges from the start of her five-year service as Hopewell’s superintendent. The school division’s culture of having low expectations for its students, students’ negative attitudes toward school, and a poor track record of only one accredited school and stagnant SOL test scores were just a few of the problems she faced.
In order to turn Hopewell’s situation around, Dr. Hackney focused her students and staff members on three things: what was being taught and how; keeping what was working and eliminating what was not; and creating success by providing students with new opportunities and experiences. The strategy that proved most effective was to provide real-life experiences for her students so that they could see the connections between the knowledge and skills they were learning and how they were being applied.
In her campaign to promote deeper learning through these experiences, Dr. Hackney fostered an environment of success in which everyone shared. As a result, teachers strengthened their commitment to education, students’ attitudes toward school became more positive, and all of Hopewell’s schools have become accredited.
More than 150 educators and state officials attended the Ceremony to Celebrate Virginia’s Superintendents virtually. The state officials who participated included Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, Board of Education President Daniel Gecker, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. Although he was unable to attend, Governor Northam recorded a message that recognized all of Virginia’s superintendents for the great job they have done leading the changes necessary to continue their students’ education during the COVID-19 pandemic school closures.
Virginia Board of Education President Daniel Gecker reiterated this message when he thanked all of Virginia’s superintendents for their exceptional leadership during the COVID19 Crisis. He said, “ALL of Virginia’s superintendents could be considered Superintendents of the Year as they have gone well above and beyond the normal requirements of their jobs to ensure that learning continues in their school divisions while providing social and emotional support for their students, staff and parents.”
As Virginia's Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Hackney will be eligible for the National Superintendent of the Year Award, which will be presented next February in New Orleans, LA by the American Association of School Administrators.
The Regional Superintendents of the Year include:
Region I - Melody D. Hackney, Division Superintendent, Hopewell City
Region II - Elie Bracy, III, Division Superintendent, Portsmouth City
Region III - Carol B. Carter, Division Superintendent, King and Queen County
Region IV - Shannon L. Grimsley, Division Superintendent, Rappahannock County
Region V - J. Douglas Straley, II, Division Superintendent, Louisa County
Region VI - Eugene P. Kotulka, Division Superintendent, Alleghany County
Region VII - Haydee L. Robinson, Division Superintendent, Dickenson County
Region VIII - Charles M. Berkley, Jr., Division Superintendent, Lunenburg County
View the 2020 VASS Superintendent of the Year Ceremony Below