Lakeland principal leavingPublished 10:00pm Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Lakeland High School’s principal of 15 years says he is leaving Suffolk’s school district for a position in Chesapeake to further his career.
Thomas Whitley’s next challenge, principal at Western Branch High School, was announced at a Chesapeake School Board meeting Monday, Chesapeake Public Schools spokesman Tom Cupitt confirmed.
“It’s a difficult decision,” Whitley said. “I have certain aspirations I’d like to accomplish with regards to my career.
“There are some times that you have to leave your comfort zone in order to make your dreams become reality.”
Though not alone in the Suffolk school system, Lakeland, which is accredited with warning, continues to face challenges on the academic front.
However, district superintendent Deran Whitney paid tribute to Whitley’s contributions to the school’s successes.
“Dr. Whitley has served the Lakeland High School family very well and has been a huge part of the school’s success over the years,” Whitney stated.
“His signature Z-block credit recovery program is a fine example of how he is willing to do whatever is necessary to assist students.
“While I know this is an opportunity for him, he will be greatly missed by Suffolk Public Schools.”
Whitley, who was an assistant principal at Nansemond River High School for two years before taking the Lakeland position, said Lakeland has given him “the opportunity to work with outstanding faculty and staff.”
“People I worked with over the years really made a significant contribution to change the lives of students,” he said. “What we have done here goes far beyond assessment scores and test scores. It’s all about preparing students for the future and helping them become productive citizens. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Replacing Whitley at Lakeland High School “is a task that requires careful attention,” according to Whitney.
“Clearly, we want to recruit, recommend and hire someone who will meet the needs of the entire student population, build on Dr. Whitley’s successes and strive for continuous improvement,” he stated.
That process “will begin immediately,” district spokesman Bethanne Bradshaw stated, adding, “Our typical recruitment and hiring process has begun.”
The district hopes to have a replacement for Whitley by July 1, she added.
Whoever sits at his desk next instructional year needs to “come in with a listening ear,” Whitley said.
He said he remains confident the school is on course to overcome its obstacles.
“The work we have done here this year, with regards to identifying the obstacles that we have and addressing those, have laid the foundation for us to reach outstanding achievement with regards to curriculum instruction,” he said.
“It’s time for me to approach the next chapter in my life and my career.”