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New Montgomery Co. school superintendent facing many challenges

March 02, 2010
  • "The timeline is a little out of our hands, but you can be sure that we'll be aggressive with getting started as soon as we have a go ahead for doing any type of work on that campus," says Brenda Blackburn.
"The timeline is a little out of our hands, but you can be sure that we'll be aggressive with getting started as soon as we have a go ahead for doing any type of work on that campus," says Brenda Blackburn.

The Montgomery County School system has a new superintendent, who takes the lead at a challenging time.

The reigns have been passed from Walter Shannon to Brenda Blackburn during a time that's presented the school system with endless hurdles.

It's officially her second day on the job.

Blackburn says she's being briefed on snow days, deep budget cuts, the Blacksburg High School roof collapse and plans to reopen the building.

"The timeline is a little out of our hands, but you can be sure that we'll be aggressive with getting started as soon as we have a go ahead for doing any type of work on that campus," says Blackburn. 

She'll rely on her 30 years experience in public education ranging from her start teaching in a Danville, Virginia classroom to her last stop as an associate superintendent in Brevard County, Florida.

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"I've seen school systems decline. I've seen school systems grow. I've seen schools when they had adequate budgets. I've seen when we've struggled," says Blackburn.

Blackburn will begin with a tour of all schools this week and a public reception is set for March 9th at Christiansburg High School.

"Especially when you're dealing with tough times. The relationships piece becomes even more important," says Blackburn.

Her heart, she says, remains with the children and her learning experiences as a guidance counselor.

"The kids who come to our schools come with lots of different things on their minds and lots of baggage sometimes," says Blackburn.

The move from the sand and sun to a now snowy Southwest Virginia brings her closer to family where she grew up, in North Carolina.

"I just think I'm ready to come back to the mountains. I'm ready to do a little hiking," says Blackburn.

Blackburn signed a three year contract receiving a $150,000 salary.

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