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Agnew to retire at Magna Vista
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Friday, May 2, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Magna Vista High School Principal Gracie Agnew will retire effective June 30.

The Henry County School Board approved her retirement at its meeting Thursday.

“It’s a tremendous loss for education in general and for Henry County Public Schools in particular,” DeWitt House, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning for Henry County Public Schools (HCPS), said after the meeting.

He called Agnew “an outstanding educator” and “the ultimate professional” and said she has a strong work ethic.

“She has always been very, very organized,” House said. “She’s always had the best interests of the students at the forefront. She is a strong instructional leader. She has great vision.”

“She has the ability to bring people together and get things done,” as evidenced by Warrior Tech Academy and other successes at Magna Vista, House said. Warrior Tech Academy — the first New Tech Network school in Virginia — opened last August at Magna Vista.

“She’ll be greatly missed,” House said of Agnew.

Last summer, Agnew was named the 2013 Outstanding High School Principal of Virginia by the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.

In a news release at the time, Randy Barrack, VASSP executive director, stated: “VASSP is honored to recognize the outstanding work of Gracie Agnew. ... Effective schools are vital to the success of students and the high expectations demanded by principals and their belief in the capacity of all students to perform is critical in school leadership.”

As a principal, Agnew has successfully involved the local community in the life of the school and has shown an awareness of current and emerging issues as well as a passion for improving the school’s learning environment, the release stated.

Recently, both Bassett and Magna Vista high schools received silver medals in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best High School Rankings.

Also recently, Magna Vista High School received a Green Ribbon Award— one of two schools from Virginia and 64 schools nationwide recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The Green Ribbon Schools program recognizes energy-efficient and environmentally friendly schools that have programs that promote environmental awareness, literacy, community engagement and student wellness

Joe DeVault, who is chairman of and member-at-large on the Henry County School Board, was principal of Drewry Mason High School in the early 1970s when he hired Agnew as a first-year teacher right out of college, he said in a previous interview. DeVault said he immediately saw that Agnew was a person “with unlimited potential.”

Agnew was an English teacher for a number of years and then was an administrator in Henry County and Rockingham County, N.C., public schools, DeVault said. He added she “has grown and matured into an outstanding administrator.”

In the Henry County schools, Agnew was principal at Bassett Middle School from 2000-02, principal at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School from 2002-04, director of instruction at the school board office from 2004-06 and principal of Magna Vista since then, school officials have said.

Agnew has 40 years of service with HCPS in all, Christy Landon, the school division’s director of human resources, said Thursday.

DeVault said in the previous interview that Agnew has provided strong leadership for the school, teachers and the community, which has allowed Magna Vista to develop into the school it is today, borne out by the honors it has received.

DeVault and Agnew could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

House summarized the procedure for finding Agnew’s successor: “The position will be posted; applicants will be screened; interviews conducted with selected applicants; superintendent will make a recommendation to the board; timeline TBD (to be determined).”


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