And the new Director of City Schools is… VanHuss selected as new Elizabethton City Schools Superintendent

Published 10:31 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
When current Director of City Schools Dr. Corey Gardenhour announced his resignation effective June 30, 2020, no one knew the pace at which the search and selection for a new director would take but after what has been an exhaustive, pulse-raising search, a new Director has been selected.
On Tuesday night, that search ended when Mr. Richard VanHuss was named the Elizabethton City Schools Superintendent effective July 1, 2020, when the new school year begins.
Even though there were several items on the regular school board agenda, the first and foremost decision was to bring to an end the efforts of a volunteer search committee, several hours of reviewing resumes by the board and completing interviews with six candidates on Saturday which lasted from early in the morning to early evening.
Each board member was presented with a ballot to write down their first choice of a candidate. Those were passed to Felicia Baird who proceeded to read off each ballot in alphabetical order.
Board Chairwoman Rita Booher’s pick was Dr. Myles Hebrard, Phil Isaacs named VanHuss, Dr. Grover May selected Hebrard, Danny O’Quinn went with VanHuss, and Eddie Pless finished the ballots by picking VanHuss as well.
With a 3-2 advantage for VanHuss, the board came into the meeting with the understanding that each board member would give their reasoning behind their ballot selection.
Each one was given that opportunity and at the end of their presentations, the next step involved nominated someone to be voted on.
May began to nominate Dr. Hebrard when a point of order was called by O’Quinn who stated that was not what had been agreed upon Saturday and with May’s nomination still on the table, Booher stated in order to not have anyone upset they would start with VanHuss since he had the 3-2 edge but stated he would still have to be nominated before they could vote.
A nomination by O’Quinn was made and seconded. Booher began the voting process as Pless, Isaacs, and O’Quinn voted in favor of VanHuss while Booher and May voted no.
Per board guidelines, a second vote was taken in an effort to get a unanimous vote in favor of VanHuss. In the second vote, May and Booher both voted to give 100 percent backing to VanHuss.
VanHuss was not present but responded to questions afterward when called.
“I am absolutely humbled by the support and I am excited to get started,” said VanHuss. “We have great people in place to help move the system forward after a rapid process.
“There will be lots of challenges including how the best way to reopen schools will be. It’s going to take a group and we will be leaning on each other because there is nothing more important than what is going on in our school system.”
VanHuss said that he knew the table was stacked with very good candidates for the position and no matter whom the board selected, the school system would have a good leader.
“There were great candidates that were interviewed,” VanHuss stated. “This had to be one of the most rapid-fire, unprecedented Superintendent searches in the history of the school system.
“It had a whirlwind of emotions almost like riding on an emotional roller coaster. The board was in a position where they couldn’t have made a bad choice.
“I look forward to the challenge and to working with everyone as we move forward. We want to make our school system the very best it can be.”
VanHuss was very appreciative of the work that Dr. Gardenhour had done as his predecessor.
“Dr. Gardenhour and I have worked together 13 to 14 years and I appreciate his service to the school system,” commented VanHuss. “He will do everything he can to have me in a good position before he leaves.
“I just want to wish him the best as he moves over to Kingsport.”
VanHuss was asked if he could have ever imagined when in school as a student in the Elizabethton City Schools that one day he would have the opportunity to take over the reins as the Director of Schools.
“To be perfectly honest, people told me that I was too smart to be a school teacher,” VanHuss reflected. “I wasn’t passionate about making a lot of money, but I was very passionate about education.
“This year is my 30th Class Reunion and when others come back for the reunion, it’s like I have never left. I have been here the whole time.
“This is surreal and humbling for me. My door will always be open to any concerns and I look forward to working with all the great people in our school system.”
VanHuss was thankful for all the support given to him by his family.
“I will have two children in the school system and I realize that their lives may be a little different now,” said VanHuss. “Also my wife is a teacher at Westside Elementary and her life may change as well.
“I just want them to know that I love them very much!”
The next step for VanHuss will be to meet with Booher and Legal Council Debra Owens to work out a contract.
The final piece of advice that Dr. Gardenhour gave the board was to make sure that the money matches the position because there is an extreme amount of work that is done in the role of Director of Schools.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox