Joe DeVault

Longtime Henry County School Board member Joe DeVault.

Joe DeVault, at-large representative on the Henry County School Board, said he would not seek re-election, ending a decades-long association with public education.

“I will be completing my third term in December," DeVault said Tuesday. "It’s time to have some fresh eyes on what’s going on. I think it’s good to have different ideas, maybe younger people.”

But "I don't feel old," said DeVault, 77, who lives in the Chatmoss area.

DeVault's long career in education — he retired in two different states — including being principals of two high schools and an elementary school lin Henry County and a high school in North Carolina.

“Twelve years [on the board] is kind of a good time to move on.”

“He’s always been for all children in Henry County and treated all employees the same whether it was the superintendent, a school bus driver or a secretary,” Henry County School Board Chairman Francis Zehr said of DeVault.

DeVault served a number of years as the board's chairman. “I have enjoyed the time. I feel very proud of the school system, of where we are and what we have accomplished,” he said.

During his time on the board, DeVault said, the school division has moved toward full accreditation of all schools, built a new elementary school and launched Warrior Tech academy at Magna Vista High School and Bengal Tech at Bassett High School.

Warrior Tech and Bengal Tech were the first programs in Virginia to focus on project-based learning experiences.

DeVault said the school division has won state and national awards for its technology instruction and availability of technology for students.

He said Henry County Public Schools is a highly respected school system, in part because of the leadership of superintendents, principals and teachers.

“Dr. DeVault hired me [as a social studies teacher] in 1974-75 and gave me a chance," Zehr said. "He was my principal at Drewry Mason High School until 1987-88 when Drewry Mason became a middle school.”

Zehr described DeVault as “a wonderful guy.”

DeVault began his career as a teacher and coach at Drewry Mason High School. He later served as principal at Rich Acres Elementary School, principal of Drewry Mason High School and principal of Magna Vista High School before retiring in Virginia.

He then went to North Carolina and served as principal of McMichael High School in Rockingham County before retiring a second time.

DeVault’s wife of 54 years, Jerri, was a teacher and guidance counselor for the Henry County and Martinsville school divisions before retiring. They have one living child, son Andy DeVault of Martinsville, and two grandchildren.

"He’s one in a million,” Zehr said.

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