Elkin City Schools will soon be seeking a new leader following the announcement Monday night near the end of the monthly school board meeting that Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe will be retiring effective July 1.
Bledsoe informed the board of his decision and presented them with a letter, explaining “it has been an honor and a privilege to serve the staff, students, parents and community of Elkin City Schools as superintendent since 2008. I have enjoyed working with the staff of Elkin City Schools and more importantly, supporting the efforts of the staff as we prepare our students for his/her educational goals and career.”
For 38 years, Bledsoe has been an educator, beginning his career as a seventh-grade life science teacher and coach at Ferndale Middle School in High Point. The 1974 Surry Central High School graduate spent his career in High Point Public Schools, Wayne County Public Schools, Lenoir County Public Schools and Greene County Schools before returning to Surry County to serve in Elkin.
“I’m going to miss working with my leadership team, my staff, and probably most of all working directly with our kids, with our children, our students,” he said Tuesday reflecting on his time in Elkin. “The most important thing to me throughout my career has been the importance of teaching and learning. As a teacher, I wanted to be the very best I could and engage students in their learning, and as an administrator, I hope everything I’ve done has assisted and supported teachers in applying their profession and being a teacher to help students be more engaged in their learning to further their academics and look forward to a career.”
Bledsoe said the decision to retire was a hard one to make, but he feels it is the right time for the move. But Elkin will remain home for Bledsoe and his wife, Steva. “School is what I know best. I’ve been in school since I was 6 years old. It is a tough decision, but at the same time, it is the right decision to make.”
Spending more time with his wife, his mother and his family is something Bledsoe is looking forward to as well as being able to travel and play more golf. “I’ve been promising for the last four years to play more golf and I haven’t. I’m going to golf and garden, go to the beach, and hopefully Steva and I will be able to take a few excursions or trips we’ve been putting off a long time.
“I would like to see a lot of the sights in our great nation. I’ve not been able to because I’ve been involved in educating our youth. I want to see Montana, I want to see Big Sky country,” he said.
He and Steva will remain active in the community and their church, Bledsoe said, and he looks forward to doing more antiquing. “I love to find antiques and restore them. That’ll be fun, too.”
As far as leaving the school system, Bledsoe added in his letter to the board, “I am proud of the accomplishments of our school district and the many accolades that represent the dedication, focus and professionalism of each of our staff members. The continued efforts of this district’s educators to provide an extraordinary education for each child, during the worst financial environment in recent history, are to be applauded. The journey to significance that is embraced by the leadership team is one that will keep Elkin City Schools recognized as one of the top performing school districts in North Carolina.”
School board Chairman Dr. Richard Brinegar said the board members didn’t know until Monday night about Bledsoe’s retirement so no decisions or discussions were held after the announcement. He expects the board will hold a meeting soon to discuss how to move forward in searching for a new superintendent.
Brinegar said he admired Bledsoe’s leadership and communication skills and appreciated everything he did for the school system. “He was a great leader. He is one of the best communicators I’ve ever seen. He was a great cheerleader for Elkin City Schools,” he said.
“He’s a wonderful man and a wonderful educator,” said Brinegar as he mentioned Bledsoe’s energy and enthusiasm as two attributes he admired.
Leading Elkin into the curriculum transition to take on STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) and guiding the school system through “some very lean years” when he arrived in 2008, were two things Brinegar mentioned as highlights of Bledsoe’s time and contribution in Elkin City Schools.
“He was a great superintendent and a great advocate to Elkin City Schools,” Brinegar said. “I’ve never met anybody who was a greater advocate for public schools and a greater advocate for Elkin City Schools. I learned a lot about how to communicate to a wide range for people and being proud of what we’ve got.”
He said it will be hard to find someone who has been involved in teaching, coaching, buses, administration, in all the aspects of education Bledsoe had been part of during his career. “It concerns me about doing our job and finding someone to be captain of the ship, but we’ve got the board that can do it, and we’ve got the community and the support,” Brinegar said.
“We don’t have a default individual. We do it by committee with the central office staff,” Brinegar said of leadership in the absence of the superintendent. “We want to move forward quickly because we don’t have an assistant superintendent per se.”
The next step for the school board will be deciding where to place the advertisement for the superintendent opening and what the ad should say.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.