By Terry Harris
Though he said that he has been keeping things low key while going through the process of personally informing school board members and area officials of the change, on Monday, Nov. 30, Dr. Julius Hamlin, former assistant superintendent of Sussex County Schools, began the official transition to his new position as associate director for the Office of School Quality for the Virginia Department of Education (VOE).
The Sussex County native, who has served in the local school system for the last 10 years, said that timing was a major issue in his decision to accept the new position.
“So, this opportunity presented itself, and I was torn for a while,” he said. “I couldn't have done it during this summer, but now with the virtual and remote learning taken care of, it was a decent time to make the transition.”
Hamlin explained that while his role in his new position will be to support school improvement throughout the state, he has no intention of forgetting about “the folks back home.”
“I will definitely be back close to home as much as I can to help with the transition,” he added, “but we have been dealing with the challenges the pandemic has brought on for nearly a year, and we know how to go back to school now, you know. And this new position gives me an opportunity to really make an impact and serve in this larger capacity that also represents Sussex well.”
“With this area being home for me,” said the Sussex native, “you know it something that's good for the region – having somebody representing the region and school districts that will have a voice at the table - to kind of support school districts from somebody with our perspective as well. So, I think it's a good move for the Virginia Department of Education and a good move for our locality as well.”
Hamlin said that his appreciation of the support of local people in Sussex is unwavering, and he is happy that his VDOE office in Richmond will keep him near enough to “home” that he also can continue to keep up with and support “things going on in the area” as much as possible.
“I've been getting phone calls left and right from colleagues, friends and family that they're just appreciative of what I've been able to support and to do back home and hate to see me go,” he admitted. “But on the same note they’re happy about my being able to continue to serve Sussex in this capacity. For instance, when I talked to Sheriff Giles about what I was doing he said, ‘You know we're going to miss you!’ and I said, ‘Well, you know I'll be back for football games and other school activities!’”
“All in all, I am going to miss everybody,” he said, “But I do feel good about the change, and confident that in Richmond I’ll be able to try and make a difference in our schools and education practices throughout the state. It’s just a real bonus that at the same time I'll still be able to be in the stands cheering here when I can. And I have assured Dr. Jarratt and everyone here that anything that they need that the State Department can assist with they'll know that I will be able to help more now. So, it's a good thing.”
“You know, you have relationships with the people you work with, so you miss things like that as you’re building new relationships in a different area to add to that base,” he said. “I just really want to thank all the folks here in Sussex County who have given me the opportunity to work alongside them in the community, and I feel blessed to have the foundation that they have helped me build. Now I look forward to taking that foundation to Richmond to get busy helping schools throughout the state to promote continuing the tradition of always striving to provide quality education opportunities for our children throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.”