Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane visited the River City on his way from Richmond to Staunton Tuesday afternoon.
Before visiting the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in the Queen City, Lane took a tour of Waynesboro and Augusta County schools’ Post-High Learning Lab and Waynesboro Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education annex.
“Waynesboro City Public Schools — you can really tell that they care about every child,” said Lane after the tour of both facilities.
Lane said that with the Post-High Learning Lab and the CTE “you can really tell they’re wrapping themselves around students.”
Lane holds a doctorate in education from UVa, according to the Virginia Department of Education website, as well as a master’s degree in school administration from North Carolina State University. Lane earned a second master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in teaching from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Chesterfield County.
“We’re always excited to have the state superintendent or anyone from Richmond visit,” Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell said.
Waynesboro and Augusta County schools’ Post-High Learning Lab will provide “real life” experiences for both school systems’ students ages 18 to 22 who have special needs, Waynesboro Public Schools Executive Director of Student Services Dr. Ryan Barber said told Lane on Tuesday afternoon.
At 344 Poplar Avenue, the house is behind Waynesboro High School, and has been made possible by community support and donations in the last few months which will make it possible for 19 students to begin their “real life” experience on Nov. 6. Families and students will visit the house on Oct. 29.
“We’re real excited about the partnerships that we have with the Shenandoah Valley Partnership and Augusta County,” said Barber.
Both school systems have “great kids and wonderful teachers,” Barber added, and the partnerships have grown with the Post-High Learning Lab project.
Many local businesses and organizations volunteered labor and materials to make the dream of a house a reality. The Waynesboro/Augusta Woman’s Club made curtains for the house from donated fabric.
“Even though we’re here in Waynesboro, our partnerships in Augusta County are stronger,” Barber said of the Post-High Learning Lab moving from Wilson Memorial High School in Fishersville to the River City.
And the Post-High Learning Lab would not have gotten started without funds and support from the Shenandoah Valley Partnership. Barber estimated that the project cost totaled approximately $125,000.
While touring the CTE, Lane chatted with students in the Technology Foundations and Intro to Health & Medicals Sciences classes. He celebrated with a student in Wanda Hulse’s Technology Foundations class who had completed his model structure of a truss bridge successfully.
In Intro to Health & Medical Sciences, Lane asked students if they want to work in the medical field, and if any want to become nurses. A young lady in the front row raised her hand.
Lane asked the class if he can do anything in Richmond to further enrich their public education experience, but students were shy with responses after having just taken a test.
“There’s an added excitement about the Career & Technical Education,” Cassell said to Lane at the end of the tour. Cassell said that students filled the classes up quickly for this first academic year.
According to Waynesboro High School Principal Bryan Stamm, eight teachers from the high school teach courses at the CTE. Although the teachers are in a different building across Poplar Avenue from the high school, he said they continue to feel a part of the high school.
Cassell said an excitement is also felt from the community, as local businesses are focused on mentoring students in the trades and providing local work experience.