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Rick Vrhovac Becomes Sutherland Middle School's New Principal - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Rick Vrhovac Becomes Sutherland Middle School's New Principal

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Albemarle County Public Schools Press Release

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Rick Vrhovac, who has served as an educator and administrator for more than 25 years in Central Virginia, has been appointed by the Albemarle County School Board as the new principal for Sutherland Middle School.

Vrhovac, who began his career in education as a physical science teacher at Burley Middle School, has served since 2009 as an assistant principal in the division’s largest high school, Albemarle, and for one year as the assistant principal at Walton Middle School.

Vrhovac joined Albemarle High School in 1996 as a science, health and physical education teacher and as the school’s head varsity football coach. While at Albemarle, he also served on the National Honor Society Committee, developed the school testing center, worked with the county police department on school safety, and designed programs to assist students with special education needs.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity to work with the Sutherland community,” Vrhovac said. “School is all about relationships. It’s why I make a point of being out of my office and in the hallways as often as possible. That’s the most effective way to get to know students, to learn about the issues and concerns that matter the most, and to support them. I know that Sutherland parents have high expectations for their children, and they demonstrate that through their involvement with the school. I am eager to get to know and work with parents, because so much of their children’s success will be built upon our shared commitment to excellence,” Vrhovac said.

Dr. Matthew Haas, the Assistant Superintendent for Organizational and Human Resource Leadership, led the search process and he said the division has a strong field of internal candidates.

“We had some wonderful support from the Sutherland community in our evaluation process. Responses from the local community to our online survey were extremely helpful,” Dr. Haas added.

Parents were asked to identify the qualities they felt were most important in a principal and most often cited being a strong communicator, an effective educator, and a character builder.

“Rick will be an outstanding leader for Sutherland, because he represents all of those qualities every day. At both Albemarle High School and Walton Middle School, he partnered with the principal to bring school officials, teachers, parents and students together. He is a key resource for teachers and a valued mentor to students,” Dr. Haas said.

One example, Dr. Haas noted, was Vrhovac’s role as a liaison to students in developing and operating Albemarle High School’s award-winning bullying prevention program.

Vrhovac is succeeding Dave Rogers, who retired at the end of the prior school year. He will be leading a middle school that is among the top academic performers in Virginia. Most recently, Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rates for Sutherland students were 96 percent in science, 93 percent in history, 88 percent in reading, and 87 percent in math. Sutherland is one of three Smithsonian Schools in the nation, partnering with the Smithsonian Museum on math and science projects, and this past year, the school received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the state Board of Education.

This past year, Vrhovac served as Walton Middle School’s assistant principal, where, according to Principal Alison Dwier-Selden, he had an instant impact.

“Rick earned the trust and respect of our entire school community, including parents, for the way in which he listens, understands needs, and brings a sense of accountability for getting things done,” Dwier-Selden said.  “We immediately will begin our own search process to appoint a successor who will continue to build upon the progress Rick made at Walton,” she added.

Vrhovac received his Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from David Lipscomb University and his Master’s degree in Physical Education from James Madison University.

In addition to his 20 years with the Albemarle County school division, he served as a teacher, athletics coach, and director of athletics in Louisa County for eight years.

His appointment as Sutherland’s principal is effective immediately.


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