Reed Gillespie, who joined Albemarle County Public Schools as an associate principal for Monticello High School in 2015 and currently serves as the associate principal at Western Albemarle High School, has been appointed as principal of the division’s first fully virtual school. The new school, which debuts on August 23, will provide synchronous learning on a full-day schedule. In addition to Gillespie, the school is hiring a faculty that will be fully devoted to online instruction.
The new principal will be joined by the division’s Director of Secondary Education, Jay Thomas, in two upcoming information sessions on the virtual school on May 26 and June 1. Interested parents and students may join the virtual information sessions using the following links:
The school division also has established a Virtual School web page with information and updates on the virtual school.
“This is a transformational opportunity for our families,” said Gillespie. “It allows us to reinvest and build upon all of the experience and innovation we developed over the past year in online learning. While the majority of our families prefer in-person instruction, we expect many students will choose to continue to learn virtually when the new year begins on August 23,” he added.
The division’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Matthew Haas, said that the new school is a one-year pilot and furthers the expansion of choice that has led to more diversity in the range of learning experiences available to students. “We want students to be excited about how and what they learn,” he said. “When schools meet students at their individual interest and passion points, their academic performance becomes more purposeful and fulfilling,” he said.
On June 1, all families in the school division will receive an intent form that asks them to declare whether their child will attend school in person or virtually when the new school year begins. The form also will be available on the Parent Portal for each student and should be completed by June 11.
Families that choose to enroll one or more of their children in the virtual school will receive follow-up information regarding registration for course offerings and will be asked to commit to the virtual school for at least one semester, through January of next year.
“Mr. Gillespie’s passion for all student achievement; his strong appreciation for the gifts every student and family bring to education; his priority on expanding and listening to student voices; and his inclusion of all stakeholders in important decisions make him an ideal choice for this new responsibility,” said the division’s Deputy Superintendent, Debora Collins.
Gillespie’s focus as a leader has been on designing programs and working with students on academic coaching. His previous experience includes leading a weekly Twitter program for educators and being a frequent presenter at Edcamp, the professional development resource for Digital Promise, an education nonprofit authorized by the U.S. Congress to expand learning opportunities for students by speeding up innovation in how students learn.
This year, Gillespie led a student-teacher committee to redesign instruction around technology integration to support online and hybrid learning and expanded the school’s community outreach, adding improvements to its website and the production of video tutorials. He also initiated professional development opportunities for teachers to enhance student and teacher engagement and expanded student participation in a program that prepares students for college success.
“The most effective school administrators constantly seek out ideas and programs that will make their schools better,” Gillespie said. “I agree with Paul Houston, who wrote The Soul of Educational Leadership, that the best leaders value communications, collaboration, and community leadership above books and buildings,” he said.
Prior to joining Albemarle County Public Schools, Gillespie taught English and history and served as the social studies department chair at Rappahannock County High School. He also taught at Fauquier High School and was an assistant principal at Kettle Run High School in Nokesville. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Wittenberg University and his Master’s in Educational Administration from Shenandoah University.
This release was updated on May 14, 2021, to accurately reflect the dates pertaining to the 2021-22 Intent Form.
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Strategic Communications Officer