New Hamilton-Holmes principal values community

A new face will greet Hamilton-Holmes Middle School students this fall.

Tina Rudd takes the helm as the middle school's new principal in time for the 2017-2018 academic year. Prior to her appointment, Rudd served a two-year stint as the assistant principal at Patrick Henry High School in Hanover.

High on Rudd's agenda at Hamilton-Holmes are maintaining the school's sense of community and facilitating the transition into and out of middle school.

Rudd, a Hanover native, has spent her 22-year career in teaching and administrative posts in Hanover Public Schools. During that time, she served among the first faculty members of Oak Knoll Middle School when it first opened its doors in 2001.

The experience provided a unique chance to mold a school's culture. Rudd helped select a mascot, school colors and set the tone for English instruction as department chairwoman. It also provided lessons how to develop an inviting academic atmosphere, Rudd said.

A key component to a good community is to model collaborative behavior for students, Rudd said.

A commitment to being involved in the community was a defining feature of Rudd's teaching career in Hanover, and she sees a similar streak in King William, a place she sees as one where families stay for generations. Rudd crossed paths with King William faculty and parents over the years during sporting events and similar activities.

"I couldn't leave home to work somewhere with different values," Rudd said.

As head of a middle school, Rudd finds herself as a gatekeeper for the school district's students and parents, ushering them into Hamilton-Holmes' hallways after elementary school and seeing them off onto King William High School.

"That transition is very important," said Rudd.

The school will switch to a block schedule for classes for the 2017-2018 academic year in part to improve instruction. Rudd — who did not have a role in the initial decision to move to block scheduling — thinks that will help prepare students for high school, where a block schedule is used.

Gone will be the days of every class every day. Instead, students will have half their classes one day and then the others the next in an alternating schedule.

The change is expected to provide a better educational experience by devoting more time to subjects each days. With the block schedule, classes will be close to 90 minutes. Previously, class periods varied between 45 minutes and an hour, Rudd said.

With more time, teachers can budget time for reviews of previous lessons, instruction time and time to gauge how students grasp new material to plan for the upcoming class, Rudd said.

Other school district officials welcomed Rudd's hiring.

"I think Tina Rudd is very highly qualified," School Board chairwoman Kathy Morrison said.

The district considered 15 to 20 applicants for the principal position at the middle school. Rudd's previous experience with block schedules and school renovations made her a standout candidate, superintendent David White said.

A $13.2 million renovation project is underway at Hamilton-Holmes and is expected to finish March 2019. A renovation project entails classroom closures, noise concerns and other issues that have to be navigated to provide students instruction, White said.

"It's a different experience while undergoing renovations," White said.

The school's previous principal was Martin Darby, who served in the position for a year. Darby took an administrative post in the district as the individualized education plan coordinator for special education students, White said.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

Tina Rudd

Age: 44

Education: Randolph Macon College, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Experience: 22 years at Hanover Public Schools. Previously an assistant principal at Patrick Henry High School in Hanover.

Family: Married with two sons.

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