School Board Approves the Appointment of Three New Elementary School Principals

The Albemarle County School Board approved the appointment of three elementary school principals during their meeting last evening. The new school leaders are C’ta DeLaurier, who will be the principal of Virginia L. Murray Elementary School; Maureen Jensen, who will become Stony Point’s principal; and Angela Stokes, who will be Stone-Robinson’s next principal. All three will succeed incumbents who announced in April that they would be leaving their positions on June 30.

DeLaurier is the assistant principal of Buford Middle School in Charlottesville City Schools. She will be returning to a school division that she served for nearly 20 years, first joining Albemarle County Public Schools in 2000 as an elementary school classroom teacher. She later became a reading and math interventionist and then an instructional coach, primarily supporting elementary and middle school teachers on improving classroom strategies, practices and effectiveness.

Jensen is a talent development resource teacher for both Red Hill and Scottsville elementary schools, supporting students in all grades. She previously was a division-wide lead coach for talent development and gifted services and for English instruction for elementary, middle and high schools. She also taught at Jack Jouett and Burley middle schools and was a district director for the AVID program, an internationally-award winning program that introduces students to college preparation skills. While Jensen was at Jouett, the school received demonstration status from the program for the quality of their program.

Stokes is moving up from assistant principal at Stone-Robinson to principal. Similar to her colleagues, she served in the division’s coaching program as a lead instructional coach. She also has been an academic data coach at Mountain View Elementary School, working with teachers on their professional development. She led two division-wide student programs, Check & Connect, in which volunteers from the community mentor elementary school students, and Let ‘Em Shine, which received a national grant to study and design historical monuments.

“All three of these educators share qualities that will make them exceptional instructional leaders and very effective partners with their school communities,” said Dr. Clare Keiser, the Assistant Superintendent for Organizational Development and Human Resource Leadership. “Their experience speaks to their abilities to share their academic rigor and innovation with teachers and staff. Their collaborative support of students will be invaluable in helping every student explore a wide range of interests and reach their full potential. The interpersonal skills they will bring to their leadership are exactly what our families and staff value,” Keiser said.

Murray’s current principal, Alison Dwier-Selden, announced her retirement last month, and like DeLaurier, she also served in the division’s coaching program prior to be appointed to lead Murray. The school of some 235 students is located in the division’s western feeder pattern and is among the highest performing schools in the division on the state’s Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment tests. The school opened in 1960 and DeLaurier will be its 10th principal.

DeLaurier is an undergraduate of Rutgers University and received her Master of Arts from James Madison University in Administration and Supervision. She received her certification in Culturally Responsive Teaching in 2019.

“My admiration for the Murray school community actually goes back several years. As a teacher in the division, I chose to pay tuition to have my son educated in the county. I could have chosen any elementary school and I chose Murray. It was then, and even more now, a very special place in the heart of its community,” DeLaurier said.

That special place, she said, is owed to the school’s long record of academic rigor and its culture of caring. “For all of my almost 20 years of service with Albemarle County Public Schools, Murray Elementary School always was the place that nurtured high expectations, where every stakeholder had a voice. We saw that in the community’s overwhelming decision to retain its name as Virginia L. Murray Elementary School. Ms. Murray epitomized the highest calling of public education, which is to be an engine for inclusiveness, equity of opportunity, and individualized learning. It’s an honor to be a part of such a community,” DeLaurier said.

Also last month, Stony Point principal LaTishia Wilson said she would be relocating to another part of Virginia this summer. Jensen will become the principal of a school of nearly 175 students that includes students from the division’s northern and southern feeder patterns. The school was founded in 1908 and Jensen will be the school’s 28th principal.

Jensen received a Bachelor of Science in elementary education with a concentration in reading instruction from East Stroudsburg University. She earned her Master of Education in literacy from West Chester University. Her administrative credentials also include serving for six years as the academic dean for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, earning an Educational Specialist degree from the University of Virginia, and she has an endorsement in administration from James Madison University.

“I believe in the power of community and desire to live in the community I serve, which is Stony Point,” Jensen said. “My skill set includes a deep understanding of the interdependent nature between curriculum, instruction and assessment, as well as a tireless work ethic. I think it’s important to be a big-picture thinker who can take a project from a nebulous concept to a thoughtful and detailed plan or program,” she said.

Stokes, who joined Stone-Robinson in 2019 as its assistant principal, succeeds Mark Green as the leader of the 450-student school, which was founded in 1961. She will be school’s 11th principal.

Stokes received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Virginia. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education and a Bachelor of Arts in history. Her master’s degree is in reading, and she also earned an Educational Leadership Certificate from James Madison University.

“I always have seen the role of an educational leader as creating and implementing dynamic learning opportunities for all students, establishing a collective vision with stakeholders and engaging in outreach that welcomes all families into the fold,” Stokes said. “Another central focus for me will be ensuring that we are meeting the needs of underserved and minority populations. This certainly includes outreach to diverse learners and their families to determine how best to meet their academic needs, screening for accessibility of learning experiences for all students, and consistently including perspectives that have not been represented,” she added.

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