Filling in the Blanks: Forever a Titan

Filling in the Blanks: Forever a Titan
Dr. Gregory Hutchings Ed.D. (Photo Credit: Susan Hale Thomas/ACPS)

By Gregory C. Hutchings, ED.D. 

We all face crossroads as we navigate through life. Some take us away from where we are only to bring us back to our beginnings. Those thoughts came to mind as I realized my “dream job” in July of 2018, becoming the superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools. I was so proud to come back to the school division that helped me become the person I am. I have been a part of ACPS from elementary school, through middle and high
school, graduating from T.C. Williams High School, now Alexandria City High School, in 1995. In a leadership capacity over the past four years, it has been a privilege to advocate on behalf of our young people for an equitable education for all ACPS students.

Together, we have accomplished much and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to help forge a path forward for the school division. We put the focus on racial equity within ACPS in adopting the 2025 Strategic Plan: Equity for All in June of 2020. This five-year plan has already helped eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps as it puts all students on the path to succeed after graduation. Putting racial equity at the heart of all our work has made ACPS an example of what a school division should be. I am so grateful for your support and for allowing me to be a part of our amazing school division.

As we launched The Identity Project in July 2020, it was inspiring to see our high school students, in particular, rally behind the cause as they worked to replace the names of T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School – names with a past that promoted systemic racism. The Identity Project did more than rename these schools – it opened a wide-ranging community conversation concerning systemic racism with the opportunity for all voices to be heard.

ACPS also designed and executed our first of its kind Equity for All Climate Survey in 2021, us- ing a lens of racial equity. It was exciting to see nearly 5,000 stakeholders participate in this survey to help indicate whether systems work in addressing equity for all. It showed our areas of strength, including the learning environment and overall school climate within ACPS and how our teachers work tirelessly to provide students extra support when needed. Continued areas of focus revolve around inequities, the use of restorative practices and the inclusion of family feedback.

This was all achieved despite the COVID-19 pandemic. It was impressive to see how our ACPS families, teachers and staff pulled together amid the pandemic – to make certain our students’ academic needs were addressed along with keeping us safe. It may have taken a superintendent and a school board to lead the way, but it was the ACPS staff and community pulling together that has helped our young people to thrive even amid the toughest of times.

As I prepare to leave ACPS at the end of this month to embark on a new chapter in my life, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity af- forded to me in ACPS as a student, educator and leader. I am confident that ACPS will continue to excel as it offers its students a high-quality education that will prepare them, too, for their life’s work.

Stepping down as your superintendent, I want you to know one thing will never change – I will forever be a Titan! In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”

The writer is superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools.