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In The News

NNPS Superintendent to retire
Kilgore leaves a legacy of accomplishments

Ashby C.Kilgore, Ed.D., SuperintendentPhoto credit: Virginia Living

(10/18/2017) - Ashby C. Kilgore, Ed.D, superintendent of Newport News Public Schools, announced today that she will retire February 2018. With 10 years of service, Kilgore is the longest serving superintendent of Newport News Pubic Schools since its consolidation with Warwick County Schools in 1958.

"Dr. Kilgore's vision has moved this school division forward. She has launched numerous initiatives and programs to advance our students," said Gary Hunter, chairman of the school board. "More students are graduating in four years and earning industry and professional certifications than ever before."

Under her leadership, The Newport News Agenda for Public Education was created to guide the school district's future and evaluate student results. The Agenda established high expectations, rigorous content and persistent support for students and teachers. Through innovative teaching and learning, Kilgore has guided the school division's efforts in increasing academic performance and opening doors to unique opportunities for all students.

Kilgore will leave a legacy of accomplishments. Newport News Public Schools' on-time graduation rate reached a record high in 2017: 93.4%, up from 72.9% in 2008. During the same time period, the dropout rate decreased from 12% to 2.3% in 2017. Both the graduation rate and the dropout rate best the state averages. A year after being appointed superintendent, Kilgore established a national award-winning dropout prevention and recovery program that provides an array of services to help students graduate on time including online courses, summer learning opportunities, community-based education, graduation coaches and an evening high school program.

To ensure that students are prepared for future careers, Kilgore developed the Career Pathways initiative. Career Pathways connects students to career exploration and development. Beginning in preschool, students investigate a variety of careers, middle school students explore career options and high schoolers engage in practical experiences and internships.

Kilgore also expanded Career and Technical education options to ensure career-ready graduates with the opening of the Governor's STEM Academy at Heritage High School, the Governor's Health Sciences Academy at Warwick High School and the Discovery STEM Academy. The curriculum was modernized with the addition of courses in cybersecurity, aerospace engineering, computer modeling and simulation, and criminal justice. Now more than 70 Career and Technical Education courses prepare students to earn more than a dozen industry and professional certifications. During the 2016-2017 school year, NNPS students earned 3,300 certifications (a 417% increase since 2007), accelerating their access to technical and high-skill careers.

Kilgore is the architect of the region's first, public, day-long summer program for students. SPARK, the Summer Program for Arts, Recreation and Knowledge, serves nearly 7,000 students in kindergarten through high school during the summer. SPARK joins Newport News Public Schools with 30 corporate, non-profit, and city, state and federal partners to provide an engaging menu of full-day instruction and enrichment activities. With three meals and transportation provided, no tuition costs and a wealth of opportunities, SPARK continues to transform summer into a positive youth development program in Newport News. SPARK earned national recognition in 2016, when the program earned an award of excellence for innovative learning from the National School Boards Association.

Kilgore designed and launched the Early College program in partnership with Thomas Nelson Community College, which gives high school seniors the opportunity to earn up to 19 college credit hours, and the Early Career program that gives seniors a jump-start to viable careers while in high school.

To prepare students to take full advantage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education opportunities in higher education and the workforce, Kilgore implemented an aggressive STEM culture in Newport News Public Schools.

An early leader in youth development, Kilgore established a comprehensive district-wide youth development initiative to assist students in growing their skills in leadership, citizenship and teamwork. Service learning is now part of the curriculum in all grade levels. In addition, nearly 90% of students in NNPS participate in a school club, activity or sport, affirming their connection to school.

In addition, Kilgore championed 21st century schools by establishing a college, career and citizen-ready curriculum; extending learning opportunities; equipping all classrooms with interactive white boards; and building science labs and technology learning centers.

A well-respected educator, Kilgore was named Virginia's Region II Superintendent of the Year in 2011 and was named a 2012 Old Dominion University Darden College of Education Fellow in recognition of her career achievements.

She is also the recipient of a 2016 Urban League of Hampton Roads Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Leader Award in Education, a 2015 Humanitarian Award presented by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, the 2014 Thomas Nelson Community College Medallion, the 2014 Distinguished Educational Leader Award presented by the C. Waldo Scott Center for H.O.P.E., and a 2011 Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award presented by the State Coalition for Justice for Civil Rights for contributions to education.

Kilgore's 45-year career in public education began as a high school teacher. She subsequently served as a principal, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent. She has also served as an adjunct professor in educational leadership at Old Dominion University and The George Washington University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Old Dominion University, and a Doctorate in Educational Administration and Policy studies from The George Washington University.

While Kilgore's retirement will be effective in mid-February, her last day with Newport News Public Schools will be December 20, 2017. The School Board will name an interim superintendent before Kilgore's departure.