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Spence takes over as Park View Middle principal
SoVaNow.com / June 12, 2013Park View Middle School will gain its fourth principal in less than two years when James A. Spence II takes over the position beginning June 17. Spence replaces Samantha Milteer, who resigned after less than five months on the job.
Milteer is moving to the Suffolk area to take care of her mother, according to Mecklenburg County Superintendent of Schools James Thornton.
Spence is currently an assistant principal at Dinwiddie Middle School in Dinwiddie County. He has held the position for two years. For nine years before that, he was a social sciences teacher at Dinwiddie County High School. He credits his parents, both educators, with guiding him toward a career in education.
He has a B.A. in history education from Old Dominion University and two Master of Education degrees: one from Averett University with a concentration in curriculum and instruction, and the other from Virginia State University in administration and supervision. He is currently working toward a PhD in International/Global Studies Education, focusing on a comparative study of educational systems.
“I am excited for the opportunity. As someone who was born and raised in Dinwiddie County, coming to Mecklenburg County offers a new experience, taking me out of my comfort zone and leading my own facility,” Spence said.
He added that he is “genuinely excited to work with a group of teachers who said they are ready to work toward a shared goal and vision.”
Spence plans on using his background in motivation and mentoring to bring stability to a school that has seen its top leadership position change four times since 2012. Before Spence was Mileteer, who was hired to replace Randall Spain, after he was suspended, and eventually terminated by the School Board in November 2012. Spain served in the position for only three months, taking over from Faye Bruce, who left after accepting a principal’s position in Halifax County beginning with the 2012/2013 school year.
Changes at Park View Middle — with an ongoing transition of leadership, revamped instructional delivery and new ways to evaluate teachers — do not daunt him, he said. “I’ve had experience dealing with controversial changes. Dinwiddie County schools served as the pilot for the new teacher evaluation system, especially the pay for performance part. I know change is difficult. When done properly, especially when you can show major improvements in student performance, most parents and staff will embrace the new ways,” said Spence.
“The school has a good reputation,” he added. “With the right communication and everyone working together, Park View Middle School will become a force to be reckoned, not just in the county, but in the state.”
Spence’s wife, Aleemah, who is new to the teaching profession, having previously worked in the banking industry, will stay in Dinwiddie County with their two children, ages 11 and 5, “for now.” Eventually, he envisions the family moving to the area. Spence’s parents live in Johnston County, N.C. where his mother is a retired English teacher and his father is an administrator with the Johnston County school system.
“John Keeler, the former Assistant Superintendent for Mecklenburg County Public Schools, was my coach and mentor. He was the reason I thought about coming to Mecklenburg County. Even though he left” — Keeler resigned at the end of the school year to become Superintendent of Buena Vista City Schools — “I am still excited for the opportunity and to work with Dr. Thornton, to make Park View Middle School shine.”
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