On Feb. 24, the New Kent County School Board held a public hearing on the qualifications that the residents, parents, and staff would like to see in the new superintendent, to talk over for Dr. Robert "Rick" Richardson, Jr. in 2014.

NEW KENT – ”Forward thinking and active.”

This was the general consensus among the seven residents who spoke at the New Kent School Board public hearing Monday night on desired qualifications in a new superintendent.

“[We want someone who] practices what he preaches. Anybody can talk the talk,” said county resident Alan Walker.. “Everyday when you get up...you have to walk the walk and you will suffer. And those that are trying to lead shall suffer the worst, and that’s a travesty.”

“The new superintendent should have the ability to research and know what research is out there for the best practices when it comes to assisting our students, not just saying they will,” echoed New Kent parent Kim Williams, who is the assistant principal at Lee-Davis High School in Mechanicsville..

Along the same lines, resident Kathy Gray said that she wanted a superintendent who would “raise the bar” on education in New Kent, especially in terms of technology.

“I’m really looking for someone who is fresh and excited about being here. This is a small community and there are a lot of challenges here, but I really think there is someone out there that can move us forward,” she said.

New Kent Superintendent Dr. Robert “Rick” Richardson, Jr. announced his retirement on Jan. 8, which is effective July 31.

Since then, the School Board has received 282 online survey responses from parents, school administration and residents, which detailed their concerns and the qualifications they’d like to see in the new superintendent, including educational background, areas of expertise, talents/skills, and important issues.

When asked, School Board Chair Leigh Quick told residents that the School Board prefers the new superintendent live in New Kent County but is not requiring it right now. Doing so could eliminate “the perfect candidate,” added School Board member Gail Hardinge.

According to Quick, the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) will most likely publish the results of the survey sometime Tuesday. The School Board will then accept applications over the next month (with VSBA’s assistance,) narrow down the applicants, conduct several rounds of interviews, and finally make a selection.

“We are hoping to have the superintendent in place with a little overlap time with the current superintendent,” Quick said Monday night.

Hardinge told residents that New Kent is one of 16 localities looking for a new superintendent; Charles City and Gloucester are two of the neighboring areas looking to hire.

“We will have very stiff competition,” said Hardinge, who advised residents to check the School Board’s website (www.newkentschools.org) for upcoming meetings and VSBA survey results.

The Tidewater Review will be following this story and provide updates as they become available.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.