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Making way for a new class

Facing an early retirement after 34 years of service to Suffolk’s public education system and the students who benefit from it, Dr. Lynn Cross says she is holding onto the priority that always has guided her.

Cross, an assistant superintendent with Suffolk Public Schools, is one of nearly 80 school employees who are retiring from the school system this year, after the School Board approved an incentive designed to save the system money it would normally have spent on salaries.

“The incentive was an incentive to retire a few years earlier, but the students have always been a priority for me,” Cross said. “Retiring now, so those funds could be used elsewhere, just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Cross was the class of 1966 valedictorian of what was then John Yeates High School. She majored in history at the College of William and Mary and received a Master’s of Science degree in education administration from Old Dominion University. She later received a Doctorate of Education in educational administration and supervision at the University of Virginia.

“My senior year in high school was the first year of integration,” Cross said. “It was a positive experience for me, and I knew I wanted to be a part of doing things to further the educational opportunities for students. I’ve always wanted to be a caring person and make a difference.”

Beginning as a fifth-grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, which is now the Jefferson School Lofts apartment complex, making a difference was what Cross aimed to do.

Through the years, she taught in an “open classroom” at Booker T. Middle School; at an intermediate school; and at John Yeates High School, where she taught social studies. She was assistant principal at the former Suffolk High School and the former Kennedy High School. She was principal at Oakland Elementary School and finally became part of the central office administration.

“I started out as coordinator of public information, which still had some instruction responsibilities,” Cross said. “The job included many tasks Bethanne Bradshaw does. She was actually a student of mine in middle school.”

Cross’s job as an assistant superintendent in charge of special projects has allowed her to implement many programs aimed at expanding a student’s education. The International Baccalaureate program, the strings program that has allowed for orchestras to be added to choral and marching band programs, the modeling and simulation program, the Teacher Cadet program and Project Lead the Way are just a few of the opportunities she helped bring to the schools.

“I think we’re put on Earth to make it a better place, and there’s no higher calling than to help students,” Cross said.

“I’ve been so fortunate to help plan and implement new programs that provide more extensive educational opportunities for our students. My whole career has been about helping students add another dimension to their education.”

Cross said she is confident her contributions will continue to benefit Suffolk students and that she has no regrets.

“It’s like the senior class graduating,” Cross said. “There are quite a few of us stepping down this year, but we know there’s a junior class below us that will step up to resume our responsibilities and carry on the good work.”