Who makes the big decisions about Chesterfield County Public Schools? Well, as of July 1, 2016, it will be CCPS’s new Superintendent, Dr. James Lane. Lane, a former superintendent in Goochland and Middlesex counties, believes that all decisions should be made with the mindset that every student can be successful. “When you believe every student can be successful, and you create programs to help every student be successful, great solutions in education come really easy,” says Lane.
Lane estimates that it will take him the first 100 days as Superintendent to familiarize himself with his new role, and he does not see himself making any big decisions or drastic changes in that time. He hopes to begin his time here in Chesterfield County by visiting every school in the division. “To really get to know Chesterfield,” says Lane, and “learn really what it is that makes Chesterfield so awesome.”
He defines his leadership style as transparent, collaborative, and customer service driven. Lane believes the student is the school system’s main customer. “We’re trying to make sure that we’re inspiring every student to have a great life,” says Lane, but that’s not where the school division’s responsibility ends. “The parents are customers as well,” says Lane; “they want the best for their children.” Passionate about his work, Lane can relate to parents of students because he has two young children of his own.
Seeking to prepare every student for a productive life after high school, Lane employs a students first philosophy. “Every decision that I make is what’s in the best interest of the students involved. Folks will find, when I come to Chesterfield, that I am very student focused,” says Lane.
Lane began his teaching career as a band director then went on to become an assistant principal at Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham, North Carolina, and he says some of his most cherished experiences as an educator came from his time directing band. In Virginia, Lane served as the assistant principal at Carver Middle School in Chesterfield County, Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent for Middlesex County Public Schools, and Superintendent of Goochland County Public Schools.
Lane learned many valuable lessons from his time as Superintendent in Middlesex and Goochland Counties, one of which is how to master the transition, “I think school divisions want a superintendent that wants to learn the community before they start making major decisions about the organization,” says Lane.
Reluctant to share his vision for the future of CCPS without first observing how the school system works, Lane does feel strongly about the product CCPS should provide to its students. “I feel that every student that leaves our schools should be both college and career ready. A lot of times folks will talk about being college or career ready, but I think we’ve got to create career and technical education programs that create relevant job experiences for students where if a student wants to go right into the world of work we’ve prepared them with great courses. If a student wants to go on to college, I think we ought to be providing as many college level experiences, whether its AP or dual enrollment or IB or whatever, to make sure that when they graduate high school that they have a true college experience behind them, so that they can be successful when they get there.”
He also is adamant about keeping the school system open and honest. “When we’re doing our budget process, I want to provide as much detail as possible, or really every detail that’s possible to make sure that when we’re making decisions that it’s a collaborative process, the community feels that they have input on decision making,”says Lane. He hopes to provide accountability in exchange for community involvement in the education of future generations of Virginians. Lane says, “Anything that we do in this school division is going to be done with the highest ethics, and when there are difficult decisions to be made, we want to make sure that the community has all the information they need to help us make great decisions.”