By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: Sept 21, 2017 | 4:02 p.m.
SUSSEX – Dr. Arthur Jarrett was installed as Division Superintendent for Sussex County Public Schools in 2013 and immediately initiated his detailed comprehensive plan to get all schools “Fully Accredited” in four years.
Governor Terry McAuliffe helicoptered in to the Sussex County Schools campus to announce the fulfillment of that goal – full accreditation for all of Sussex County Public Schools – and to offer his congratulations and thanks for all of the hard work required to reach this milestone.
An enthusiastic group of students, educators and dignitaries celebrated the success, beginning with the official announcement to a room filled with local dignitaries and school officials, proceeding to a gym full of excited students, and ending with the students waving goodbye to the governor as his helicopter lifted off from the football field.
During the initial announcement, Jarrett related to the governor and gathered local officials and school staff how they began the school year with the theme: “Make the impossible possible. The magic is inside of you,” and went on to say that everyone was gathered now to “recognize that magic that our students and faculty and administration bring every day.”
To the accompaniment of recurring applause, Governor McAuliffe asserted, “This is a big deal. It’s the first time since 1998 that every school has been accredited here in Sussex County. And I know the work that went into it. …I could not bring jobs back unless they know they’ve got a workforce for 5, 10, 15, 20 years. That is the key. And that’s what you have all done. And I do want to make mention that Dr. Jarrett said in 2013 we’re going to get this done. And he got it done. To all the teachers – this is teamwork. Education is the single best investment we can make, so I wanted to be here today because I know how hard you’ve all worked. I wanted to compliment y’all and drop our little helicopter down in your ball field and come in here and see you. I’m really very, very proud of you. You’ve made it easier for me to bring business into Sussex County – plain and simple.”
Following the announcement, the governor’s group walked across campus to the Sussex Central Middle School gymnasium where he was met with enthusiastic, sustained applause. Dr. Jarrett’s introduction, saying to the students, “We are so special that the governor came to see you!” had the students cheering again.
Then the Governor addressed the students, proclaiming, “I wanted to come down here today to make a big announcement. For the first time since 1998, every school in Sussex County is now accredited.”
After further, prolonged, enthusiastic applause, Governor McAuliffe continued, “…You’re getting a good education. Don’t worry about jobs. We have lots of jobs for you. We have too many jobs that we cannot fill. … Today I have 36,000 cybersecurity jobs open. Listen to me carefully. The starting pay for those cyber jobs is $88,000 a year.”
He explained that a four-year college degree is not required for many of those jobs, encouraged the students to pursue opportunities open to them to prepare them for the jobs, and concluded by saying, “This is a milestone for Sussex County. Because of what you have done today, I, as governor, can travel the globe and bring a lot more businesses to Sussex County because every one of your schools is accredited. Thank you very much.”
Following his address to the students, he walked out among them and spent several minutes being photographed with all the middle school students as well as teachers and staff before heading back to the Virginia State Police Helicopter to depart.
As Dr. Jennifer Tindle, principal of the Middle School, guided the students back inside after they waved goodbye to the governor, she remarked, “I just feel truly honored that the governor has taken time out of his schedule to come, and so blessed to have this group of children and a phenomenal staff. They’re the ones that did the hard work. And fully accredited? Nothing else has ever felt better. I am so proud of the hard work that the children and the teachers have done. They truly earned this opportunity.”
Susan Seward, Chairman of the Sussex County Board of Supervisors, echoed both the governor’s thanks and excitement to and for the kids, and his emphasis on the potential positive economic impact on Sussex County.
“Our superintendent has worked extremely hard for this,” Seward said. “I thought today was tremendous. “From an economic development point of view I am thrilled because we can say to future employers, ‘If you locate here, your child will be in a fully accredited school system – elementary, middle and high.’ And very few around us can say that. So what we’ve been able to do is a big deal – a big deal. For the first time since 1998, we have hit that high mark of full accreditation here in Sussex. And I thought it was very kind and generous of the governor to take the time out of his busy schedule. I think it meant a lot to us, but I think it meant even more to the kids – seeing the helicopter take off – and having him take the photos with the kids. I think it added to the excitement. Because they’re going to need to be excited to want to stay here. Because teachers, administrators, Dr. Jarrett – they’re half the puzzle. The kids are the other half. They’ve got to have the excitement. They’ve got to want to stay and be invested in their own education.”
As the last guests were leaving, Dr. Jarrett summed up his feelings about the day, saying, “I’m elated. I don’t have the words for how I feel today. It is a great opportunity for not only the faculty and the staff, but mainly for the students that worked so hard for so long. We told them in the beginning that they could do it. We raised the bar of accountability. And the students came up to that bar. The teachers came up to that bar. The community came together behind us and in there with us and the results speak for themselves. I’m just so thankful. And it was so special that the governor came. I’m very humbled, and thankful to him for this event and the way that we did it – to be special for the students.”