Atkins sworn in as new school supe
Rosa Atkins was sworn in yesterday as Charlottesville’s new school superintendent and will begin work July 3. Atkins, yet another highly accomplished African American woman, takes over in the shadow of former supe Scottie Griffin’s troubled tenure.
Griffin, who resigned over a year ago (and walked away with $291,000) became a lightening rod for controversy when some parents and teachers objected to some of her decisions and her “non-collaborative” management style, prompting some African American community leaders to accuse Charlottesville’s “white elite” of trying to get rid of Griffin.
As Dr. Rick Turner, UVA's dean of African American Affairs, said at one public meeting, preceding a chorus of boos from the whites in the audience, "There's a black, competent woman at the helm, and people do not like it.” Problems would never have arisen, he said, “If she was the kind who was a jokester, who grinned when something wasn't funny, who would acquiesce and be a Negro buffoon, who would take orders from the white elites, say everything's fine, give raises, go to little meetings and have tea."
Needless to say, things only got worse. Eventually, it was learned that Griffin had run into similar problems in previous positions, seven positions in the previous 10 years to be exact, a history that the school board had neglected to look into before hiring Griffin. She resigned in April 2005.
Hopefully, Atkin’s supeship will be less controversial. Certainly, her qualifications are not in question. Unlike Griffin, Atkins has spent her entire career in Virginia, including ten years as a classroom teacher, three years as an assistant principal, and six as a principal. She was named Henrico County Instructional Leader of the Year in 1999, and recently received her PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Editor's note: Special thanks to Cheri Lewis for correcting our spelling of "principal."