Ron Hutchinson: From supe to nuts?

Can a workaholic school superintendent find happiness when he retires in June, and, oh yeah, fix that $2 million shortfall facing Charlottesville schools before he rides into the sunset?

Ron Hutchinson is wondering that himself.

"I don't fully appreciate how fully life will change," he says, and admits that he doesn't have any hobbies.

And with Hutchinson, you get the feeling he's less challenged by dealing with how many in the class of '04 will pass the SOLs or how to keep class sizes small and pay for teacher salary increases than he is trying to figure out what the heck he's going to do for the rest of his life when he retires at a relatively young 59.

Hutchinson is a local boy who was graduated from Lane High School in 1963 and came back as assistant principal there 12 years later. Except for an early stint in Danville schools, he's held an array of positions in the Charlottesville schools since 1975, taking over as superintendent in 2002.

"Having grown up in Charlottesville and spent most of my life here, it's a wonderful experience to end my career as superintendent," he says in his cool '60s-era office with its own private garden and bathroom.

It's some comfort to those who don't know what they want to do with their lives that the school superintendent didn't know either, when he graduated from UVA as a Spanish major. UVA's placement office helped him find a position teaching Spanish in Danville. "Through the back door, I found my niche," he says.

He also found his wife, Marcia, another Spanish teacher. (And for the record, Hutchinson's secretary, Joyce Hutchinson, is no relation.)

Certainly planning what to do in retirement should be an easier decision. The ever-helpful Hook predicts travel abroad in the Spanish-speaking Hutchinsons' future.

Age: 58

What brought you here: I was born and raised in Charlottesville, left for a period of eight years after receiving my undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, and returned to the area permanently in 1975.

What's worst about living here? The relatively high cost of area housing

Favorite hangout? Bookstores

Most overrated virtue? An excess of most virtues is troublesome.

What would people be surprised to know about you? My love of languages. I've studied French, Italian, and Latin, and my B.A. degree is in Spanish.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would have a full head of thick, dark hair.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? My career as an educator, which spans 37 years. I have been truly blessed.

What do people find most annoying about you? The way that, on occasion, I tend to stress out over seemingly small things and minor details.

Whom do you admire? Persons who have a strong work ethic and live purposeful lives

Favorite book? As a general rule of thumb, it's the most recent work of fiction I've read; examples would be Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

What subject causes you to rant? Any form of cruelty toward another living being

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? The incredible impact of technology on every aspect of our lives

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? The accelerated pace of life with which most of us struggle both personally and professionally

What do you drive? A 1998 Chrysler Concord

What's in your car CD/tape player right now? Etta James, Time After Time

 What's your next journey? A visit to Atlanta, Georgia, to visit my daughter and new granddaughter, who's 11 weeks old.

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? Too many good times and not enough serious study my first year in college

What do you regret? I regret not having spent more quality time with my spouse and other members of my family.

Favorite comfort food? Chocolate covered cherries (hand-dipped, of course)

What's always in your refrigerator? A quart of 1% lowfat milk

Must-see TV? Law and Order

 Favorite cartoon? Cartoons, in all honesty, are not high on my must-see list.

Describe a perfect day. A quiet day spent with my family at the beach relaxing, reading, and talking, with a grilled fresh seafood dinner, topped off with a martini.

Walter Mitty fantasy? "And now from our studio in New York, the evening news with . . ."

Who'd play you in the movie? Some tall, thin, urbane actor (preferably with a full head of graying hair and a voice like Paul Wingfield) whose career, once thought over, has experienced an amazing rebirth in this role.

Most embarrassing moment? When, before a group of 500+ educators, I could not recall the name of my boss, with whom I had worked many years, when introducing him as the featured speaker.

Best advice you ever got? Always remember that the only thing in life that is/was really yours is your good name.

Favorite bumper sticker? I am not a fan of bumper stickers. In fact, I cannot recall having ever placed one on my personal vehicle.

Ron Hutchinson