Whitney named regional superintendent

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deran R. Whitney has been named the regional superintendent of the year for Region II by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.



He was one of eight regional finalists from around the state considered for the statewide recognition, which went to Goochland County Schools Superintendent Dr. James F. Lane.

The announcements were made at the Virginia Association of School Superintendents annual awards luncheon in Roanoke.

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Region II encompasses the counties of Accomack, Isle of Wight, James City, Northampton, Southampton and York, and the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.

“Dr. Whitney has worked diligently to make Suffolk Public Schools a great institution for educating our students,” Dr. Michael Debranski, chairman of the Suffolk School Board, stated in a press release from Suffolk Public Schools.

“I am very humbled to be able to represent the 15 school divisions in Region II,” Whitney stated in the press release. “Serving as superintendent in Suffolk is an honor with so many dedicated and committed teachers and staff members. I feel privileged to serve in a community where the support for education is so very evident.”

Starting as an elementary school teacher and principal before assuming division-wide responsibilities in elementary education and K-12 instruction, Whitney has served Suffolk Public Schools for 18 years.

During that time, Whitney has reshaped the Leadership Academy for Potential Principals, helped start an International Baccalaureate program and initiated the start of two high school focus programs, one in engineering and another in biomedical sciences.

In recent years, according to the press release, Whitney has also:

4Spearheaded a City-Wide College & Career Readiness Fair, which offered middle and high school students and parents a series of workshops on preparing for high school, planning for college and transitioning to the workforce.

4Revived the staff recognition program — now called the Superintendent’s Star Awards — which honors each semester both the top-scoring honorees at a reception as well as city-wide winners for both support staff and instructional staff;

4Implemented recommendations of a comprehensive compensation and pay study, which provided teachers their first pay raise or step increase in five years, which increased teacher retention.

4Opened a new elementary school in 2014 in the southern part of the city.

4Negotiated the construction of a new elementary school and new middle school in the city’s fast-growing northern end to open in 2018.

More recently, Whitney spearheaded a summer school redesign called Learning and Enrichment for Academic Progress, which is designed specifically to prevent “summer slide” for students with low socioeconomic status, according to the press release. LEAP kicked off in 2015 as a collaborative, community-based approach between the school district, United Way’s United for Children campaign, and more than 20 other funding partners and service providers.

LEAP expanded the remedial summer school from a four-week, half-day program to an eight-week, full-day program that combined academics and enrichment. Students were offered classes in foreign language, martial arts, cooking, woodworking and more. The program also provided physical fitness assessments, screenings in hearing, vision and oral health, and coping strategies to help with such distractions as bullying.

Besides his leadership of Suffolk Public Schools, Whitney is also an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University, and has previously been an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia. He is Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity chapter education director, a member at Canaan Baptist Church, the husband of an elementary school reading specialist, and the father of a rising junior at Radford University.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport University, his master’s degree from Old Dominion University, and his doctorate degree in education leadership and policy studies from Virginia Tech.