By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: July 22, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – July 1 may have just been another day on the calendar for some but, for Dr. Lisa Pennycuff inside Prince George Public Schools’ central office, the day was special as it marked her first day of service as the school division’s new superintendent of schools.
Following the retirement announcement of Renee Williams earlier this year, who served as the PGCPS’ superintendent since 2015 after the resignation of former superintendent Dr. Bobby Browder, the Prince George School Board would swiftly move to promote Pennycuff to serve as Williams’ successor, with an announcement being made to central office staff in the spring.
Pennycuff was part of a new leadership team that worked alongside Williams as she became acclimated with the school division, serving as assistant superintendent of accountability and instruction before her promotion to PGCPS’ head office beginning this month. Last week, she opened up and shared her thoughts on her first few days in the new position and her mindset as the new school year approaches.
“This is very exciting,” she remarked. “As we prepare to begin a new school year, we are thankful to our families for entrusting the school division with their children’s education. And we are very thankful for the children-first mindset of the faculty and staff and our Prince George team aspires to work in partnership with our parents and the community to ensure that students are engaged in meaningful and challenging learning experiences that will prepare them with a solid foundation for their future plans, whether they choose to directly enter the workforce, military service, or continue onto post-secondary education.”
As they continue to work during the downtime in the county’s schools, she said the school division remains focused on molding the minds of its students through instruction and engaging extracurricular activities.
According to Pennycuff, her first few days as superintendent involved spending time in conversation with many different people in the school division.
“It was about finding out what they believe the core values for us really are,” she shared. “When you think of Prince George County, what is your takeaway? What is the message that we leave with others?”
While her time as superintendent has concluded, ending over three decades of service of Prince George County in education, Williams, according to school board officials, remains on board as a transition specialist until the end of this month, helping in the changeover from herself to Pennycuff as the school system’s newest leader.
“For us, there are many reports that are due for superintendents during the summertime as we are closing out the previous year, so there are reports that assistant superintendents are responsible for and reports superintendents are responsible for,” she detailed. “So, it involves everything from her transitioning things she would normally do over to me and assisting with those reports and ensuring there is a smooth transition and making sure we aren’t letting anything slip during that time when we are going from one to the other.”
Thinking ahead to last week’s school board meeting where Williams will be honored as a retiree of Prince George Schools and Pennycuff will sit with the board as the school division’s leader, she reflected on those who helped her reach this point in her professional career, which includes nearly three decades of educational experience and instructional leadership.
“I am thankful for the wonderful training that I have had, for the teachers in my life who have helped me prepare, especially Ms. Williams,” Pennycuff said warmly. “She has graciously served in her role and I have been able to watch her in her role as superintendent and now she is watching as I transition to see if there is any assistance that I need or if there is any final touches she can help me with before she transitions into retirement.”
Along with Pennycuff starting in her role as superintendent, previously announced administrative changes have also occurred as of July 1 as Bill Barnes becomes the school division’s interim assistant superintendent for accountability and instruction and Stephanie Bishop, the former principal of J.E.J. Moore Middle School transitions in as PGCPS’ new director of secondary instruction.