School’s out for retiring Lexington 2 Superintendent Venus Holland.
It’s her last day Thursday after seven years of overseeing classrooms in Cayce, Pine Ridge, South Congaree, Springdale and West Columbia.
Holland is known as an enthusiastic leader who often hugged her staff and thanked them.
She rose through the ranks from social studies teacher to superintendent.
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Here are her thoughts on education and its future:
Why did you become an educator?
I was in the fourth grade when I decided that I wanted to be a teacher. I announced my career choice to my parents and friends and I never wavered from my decision. I believe that I was called to serve in the field of public education. I hope I have made a difference in the lives of children.
Why did you leave teaching to go into school administration? Did you plan to become a superintendent?
Initially, I would have never thought that I would end up in administration. However, early in my career, I had principals who encouraged me to take on a variety of leadership roles. As a result, I found that I enjoyed the broader role which administration provided. In administration, I was privileged to serve both teachers and students.
Schools are dealing with rapid changes from digital technology. Are our classrooms in shape to handle the transition? If not, what needs to be done?
Technology changes so rapidly that we are in a constant mode of trying to meet the challenge to provide our teachers and students the tools that they need for our learners to graduate career – and college-ready. Thanks to the passage of our bond referendum, we will be able to complete our transition to one-to-one devices.
Are schools under too much pressure to teach students to pass tests measuring academic proficiency?
Standardized testing has existing in education for decades. I recall taking standardized tests when I was in elementary school. What has changed over time is the number of assessments that students are taking. That number has increased drastically over the past decade. Educators take the academic growth of their children very seriously.
Aside from more money, what else needs to be done to improve schools?
I am so excited about the TransformSC movement, which has business leaders partnering with education leaders to help us prepare our students to be career-, college- and citizenship-ready when they graduate. Education benefits exponentially from these partnerships. Exciting innovation is going on.
What is something schools do that you think goes unrecognized?
Due to the poverty level of so many children, schools have become one-stop shops to provide a variety of wraparound services for our children and families. We do this by partnering with state agencies, nonprofit groups and business partners. Examples include school-based nurses, mental health workers, immunizations provided in conjunction with DHEC, dental exams, backpack programs to provide food for weekends, clothing banks and after-school daycare.
There have been calls to merge some or all of the 5 school districts in Lexington County? What do you think about that idea?
The superintendents of the five districts have said that they are not opposed to consolidation. Having said that, the last time a feasibility student was done, it was cost-prohibitive to merge. In order to merge, teacher salaries would have to be raised to the highest level of currently existing schedules. Also, course offerings would have to be provided at comparable levels systemwide.
What will you miss the most and the least about being superintendent?
What I will miss most is the people! I love my children, faculty and staff and my community members. I have been blessed to be a part of the Lexington Two family for the past 28 years. What I will miss least is the worries that naturally accompany being responsible for 8,800 children and 1,100 employees.
What was the most memorable moment in your career?
It was working with our Community Task Force to pass a $225 million bond referendum (Nov. 4) to renovate our schools, build new schools and facilities and implement technology for our students.
What are you going to do in retirement?
My husband and I will be moving to Bluffton to help my sisters take care of my elderly mother. I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life.
Lexington 2 school officials are holding a farewell reception for retiring Superintendent Venus Holland at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at district headquarters, 715 9th St., West Columbia.