DOBSON — The new school superintendent for Surry County Schools finds himself “hitting the ground running” but would frankly be surprised if the situation were different.
“I feel it is really important for me to get into the schools,” said Dr. Travis Reeves, who by mid-January had almost a half dozen school visits accomplished. He recently finished the remaining 19 introductory visits while also readying himself for budget presentations from each school. “It’s very busy and I don’t know any other way.
“I developed an entry plan to the district,” said Reeves. “This began from month one to help me transition. It’s a great place to be.”
Reeves, formerly the superintendent of Ashe County Schools, was named to the new post by the Surry County Board of Education on Nov. 29 and formally took over his post Jan. 1. The term of his contract extends through June 30, 2016. He is characteristically calm in the face of the inevitable looming budget negotiations.
“We (superintendents state-wide) all began the budget process in January,” said Reeves. “We are looking towards the state budget negotiations to anticipate what may be happening with that. I have also asked the principals in the district about individual school needs.”
Reeves said what has been going on over the past few years on the state level is continual cuts to funding for education.
“My process is that of a servant-leader,” added Reeves. “Their (the principals) needs are our students’ needs. I feel we have to continue to be worried because I have seen no indicators the economy will turn around quickly. We are not going to see the glory years of 2005 and 2006 back for a while yet.”
Reeves indicated regardless of budgetary constraints the school district must never lose sight of its goal, meeting the needs of students.
“I think any superintendent you talk with would be concerned with the effects of sequestration,” said Reeves. “We have had turnover in the General Assembly as well as a new governor. We will make a point over the near future in our representations to them to make sure they know our position and will seek to get the same out on the federal level.”
Reeves also seemed confident about maintaining perspective in the traditionally research-driven educational field.
“We look at a lot of information,” said Reeves. “Most importantly, the students are what’s behind the data. Each student has a story. Each student is unique. My educational philosophy is centered around students and putting their needs first. School should be challenging for all students yet fun and rewarding.”
He said educators must model and create an educational environment “rich in experiences that will enhance the lives of our students.”
“All learning does not happen in a classroom or textbook, but as educators we must inculcate the art of teaching in our schools to reach all students’ potential,” said Reeves. “We must include opportunities for students to work in collaborative settings, use critical thinking skills and apply technology in their learning at school and home.”
The cornerstone of Reeves’ approach seems to be that public education is a partnership between students, parents, schools and community members. He indicated the first steps in this process are communicating the schools’ needs and modeling a “collaborative spirit.”
“Through my experience leading a variety of educational organizations, I have found that collaborative relationships are the key to inspiring community support for quality education. As a superintendent, I work continuously to build strong professional relationships with the board of education, employees and community members. I listen and value all groups as I invite their involvement into the school system.”
Reeves said he plans to inspire staff support by developing a common vision and goals and would continue to build on the district’s successes. He said he will give all staff members a voice in this process and “the freedom and flexibility” to implement the vision.
“I have an open door policy and value listening to others,” said Reeves. “I will utilize the experience and expertise of the staff as we help the students in Surry County Schools grow academically, socially and emotionally.”
His tenure as superintendent for Ashe County began in 2009, but he is no stranger to Surry County. Reeves served as a coach at Mount Airy High School and has been a teacher at Mount Airy Junior High School and Mount Airy Middle School. He also was an assistant principal at Mount Airy Middle School and principal of J.J. Jones Intermediate School. He also served as principal for East Montgomery High School and Eastern Guilford High School.
He has received recognition for uniting the Eastern Guilford High School community following a fire which destroyed the school in 2007. While serving as principal at Jones Intermediate from May 2003 to June 2006, Reeves led staff development on “Who Moved My Cheese,” a program fostering change in school culture. He was named Principal of the Year in 2006 in the Mount Airy City School system.
Reeves, who is a running enthusiast, served as planner for the Ashe Dash, a 5K run, and led a summer golf academy for young children in Surry County. He is also known for leading the Ashe County School system through devastating state budget cuts by developing a succession plan and reorganizing job responsibilities and job descriptions.
He has served in the Jefferson Rotary Club, as vice chairman of the Ashe County Emergency Management Board and as a member of the Ashe County Economic Development Council. He is also a member of the Appalachian State University Public School Partnership Board, a member of the advisory board for the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Reeves is married to Leslie Conner Reeves of Mount Airy. The couple have two children, Weatherly, 8, and Ridge, 4.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.