Lynchburg City Schools
Lynchburg City Schools: On a Mission of Innovative Education and Community Engagement
Discover how Lynchburg City Schools is championing education by intertwining state-of-the-art technology, strategic partnerships, and a mission that nurtures students from the classroom to career and beyond.
Nestled in the historic backdrop of Virginia, Lynchburg City Schools has been cultivating young minds for over 150 years. Under the vigilant eye of 13th Superintendent Dr. Crystal M. Edwards, who is in her sixth year, the district continues celebrating its storied past while steering toward an innovative future. Dr. Edwards reflects, “We’ve been in Lynchburg for quite some time, providing educational services. E. C. Glass High School, our largest high school, is a cornerstone of this legacy.” She notes the school’s prestige, highlighted by none other than Martin Luther King’s visit in the 60s, and the numerous historical markers sprinkled throughout the city, echoing the district’s commitment to education.
Lynchburg City Schools, with its 20 different sites and myriad programs, has evolved significantly through the years. Yet, as Dr. Edwards emphasizes, the unwavering commitment to educating the diverse student body of Lynchburg City remains unchanged.
On the school district’s current strategic trajectory, Dr. Reid Wodicka, Deputy Superintendent of Operations & Strategic Planning, shares, “We’re in the midst of a master planning process, focusing on realigning the number of elementary schools to optimize our educational offerings.”
Dr. Wodicka paints a picture of a district in transformation, not just physically but educationally. He details the drive towards “right-sizing” elementary schools to foster more engaging, rigorous programs that resonate with students’ lives. The plan doesn’t shy away from infrastructural enhancements either, with energy efficiency upgrades poised to revitalize learning environments while reducing environmental impact.
Beyond bricks and mortar, Dr. Wodicka views the facility master plan as a blueprint for community growth and engagement. Through community conversations, redefined attendance zones, and a collective focus on thriving familial and community engagement, Lynchburg City Schools is not just refurbishing buildings but is nurturing the very fabric of the city itself.
Fostering Future Innovators Through CTE
As Lynchburg City Schools write the next chapter in their illustrious history, the spotlight turns to their Career and Technical Education (CTE) initiatives, an area where Robbie Dooley’s enthusiasm is unmistakable. His role as the Instructional Supervisor of Career & Technical Education is pivotal, carving out pathways for students to transition seamlessly from academia to the workforce. Dooley shares, “We have a very close relationship with our community college here in Lynchburg, Central Virginia Community College.” This partnership facilitates a broad spectrum of CTE programs, offering everything from construction to healthcare, which is vital for students to navigate the ever-evolving job market.
Lynchburg’s alliance with Central Virginia Community College expands the district’s CTE offerings to include trades like welding and HVAC—programs not housed within the city’s schools. Dooley proudly recounts the growth of student participation in these programs, “Three years ago, when the CTE Academy started, Lynchburg City had no students in it. I think last year we had close to ten. And I think this year we’re close to 30.”
Dooley points out the forward-thinking CTE advisory board, comprising community members and business leaders. Their input is crucial in guiding the development of new programs, ensuring they align with local employment opportunities. He remarks, “We work very closely with the Health Care provider in Lynchburg, Central Health, and Dr. Edwards and I are working on some initiatives to start some introduction to healthcare at the middle school level.”
Dooley further discusses the innovative strides Heritage High School is making with the introduction of a Game Design program led by Cole Eldridge, a reflection of the district’s adaptability to contemporary educational needs. He also highlights the distinctive dental program at Glass High School and its imminent collaboration with local clinics, exemplifying the school’s commitment to immersive, real-world student experiences.
Emphasizing partnerships, Dooley underscores the enrichment of Lynchburg’s CTE offerings through interactions with local businesses like Progress Printing and Belvac, providing students with invaluable industry exposure and practical opportunities. These efforts are a testament to Lynchburg City Schools’ role in not only educating but also in actively crafting a skilled and ready workforce attuned to the economic landscape of Lynchburg.
Advancing Through Technology
In an era where technology is the fulcrum on which the future balances, Lynchburg City Schools’ commitment to integrating cutting-edge tools and practices into its curriculum is pivotal. Technology is not merely an add-on but an essential element in student learning experiences, from the youngest minds to those on the cusp of graduation.
Dooley, with evident pride, describes the district’s dedication to staying abreast of technological advancements. “Our advisory committee is very good about letting us know these are the tools that are needed in specific industries to be successful,” he explains. The investments are tangible, with significant funds allocated to ensure that students are practicing with equipment they will encounter in the professional world. From modernizing dental labs to acquiring new digital scanners for automotive programs, Lynchburg City Schools prioritize preparing students for the technological demands of their future careers.
Dooley praises the educators spearheading progress in their disciplines at Lynchburg City Schools. He lauds William Carter for his work in cybersecurity, Kimberly Hansen for her expertise in drafting, and Kelly Glen for her practical application of criminal justice, each integrating real-world insights directly into their teaching. He underlines the essential role of community involvement in shaping the curriculum, especially through partnerships with local law enforcement that enrich the criminal justice program.
He shares Whitney Wilson’s story, a former student and current linchpin of Glass High School’s dental program, as an embodiment of the district’s full-circle educational philosophy. Dooley points to the middle school sphere, where educators like Ian Moore, Christina Franklin and the recently retired Renee Stevens make learning active and hands-on, moving away from traditional textbook-only approaches.
Mission and Community: Beyond Graduation
At the heart of Lynchburg City Schools lies a mission that transcends the traditional goals of education. Dr. Edwards explains, “Our mission is every child by name and by need to graduation and beyond, and in the last couple of years, we’ve emphasized ‘to graduation and beyond.'” The district’s vision is clear: a diploma is not the end goal but a launching point into a sustainable life. Dr. Edwards and her team strive to ensure that students are not only academically proficient but also equipped with a comprehensive life plan that might include higher education, entering the workforce, or serving in the military.
She provides a panoramic view of the student demographic, revealing a diverse tapestry of about 7,900 students from varying racial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. “We’re a little melting pot, a little bit of everybody,” she describes. This diversity, she suggests, is a strength that enriches the educational experience for all students.
Maintaining quality interaction between students and teachers is a priority for Lynchburg City Schools. Dr. Edwards acknowledges the challenges presented by the national educator shortage, exacerbated by the pandemic, and outlines innovative solutions the district employs to attract and retain quality educators. “We really try to put excellent educators in front of our kids,” she says, pointing out the strategies in place to combat the teacher shortage.
The district’s proactive measures include a classified teacher program spearheaded by Chief HR Officer Sherri Shepherd. Dr. Edwards speaks to its success: “Through this program if you have a bachelor’s degree but not teacher licensure, we provide tuition assistance and a salary that’s about 90% of a first-year teacher’s.” This program is designed not only to bridge the gap between substitute and full-time teacher pay but also to make the teaching profession a viable and attractive career choice.
Dooley elaborates on Lynchburg City Schools’ efforts to nurture homegrown teaching talent through growing a partnership with the University of Lynchburg, spearheading the ‘Teachers for Tomorrow’ program. This initiative is a strategic step towards encouraging students to enter the educational field and envision a future teaching in Lynchburg. He also shares Dr. Edwards’ initiative to integrate internships across various departments within the school system, from IT to automotive, paving the way for a robust, self-reliant community that retains its skilled graduates.
Further exemplifying the district’s collaborative spirit, Dooley highlights the supportive relationship with Liberty University, where their students engage in volunteer work and contribute to the Lynchburg City Schools’ endeavors. Dr. Edwards echoes this sentiment, commending Liberty University for their substantial role in providing extracurricular support and contributing to the district’s pool of educators. She affirms the strength of this partnership, underlining the shared commitment to fostering not only academic excellence but also the broader civic and social development of their students.
Nurturing Partnerships for Progressive Education
Lynchburg City Schools understands the significance of a strong support system, one that extends beyond the immediate school community to the very suppliers and vendors that contribute to its day-to-day operations. Dr. Wodicka speaks to the importance of these relationships, particularly in the nutrition and wellness of students. “We’ve got a really great partnership with some local food vendors,” he says, highlighting the district’s innovative approach to school meals, which includes fresh, local milk from Homestead Creamery and gourmet menus crafted by chefs from Brigaid. This attention to nutritious, appetizing meals underpins the district’s dedication to the holistic well-being of its students.
However, the partnerships do not end at the cafeteria doors. Dr. Edwards expands on the crucial support from local nonprofits and businesses bolstering the district’s mission. “Our Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation is one of our tremendously supportive partners,” she says, detailing the extensive efforts in raising funds for scholarships and providing resources for teachers and students alike. Dr. Edwards also shines a light on the Beacon of Hope’s Stay Close, Go Far Scholarship initiative and the invaluable role of future centers in assisting students with their transition to college life.
These community ties extend into enriching the educational ecosystem with real-world expertise and resources. Dr. Edwards proudly speaks of the Partners in Education program and its direct impact on students, from reading initiatives to career and technical preparation. The Regional Business Alliance is another ally, aligning strategic goals with the school district’s ambitions.
Institutional collaborations also play a starring role in the district’s educational philosophy. Dr. Edwards notes the productive alliances with Virginia University of Lynchburg, Randolph College, the University of Lynchburg, and other local institutions that contribute to a vibrant learning environment through student-teacher programs and community volunteer work. These collaborations not only enrich the present but also aim to fortify the future of education in Lynchburg.
As the conversation turns towards the horizon, Dr. Edwards speaks with confidence about the future trajectory of the district. “We are accelerating excellence and innovation,” she declares, envisioning Lynchburg as a premier educational hub that fosters academic, social, emotional, and civic leadership. She envisions a future where Lynchburg City Schools graduates are known locally, nationally, and globally for their creativity and positive contributions to society.
Click The Cover To View Or Download The Brochure
AT A GLANCE
Lynchburg City Schools
What: A public school district with a focus on innovation, community engagement, and sustainability in education
Where: Lynchburg, Virginia
City of Lynchburg Office of Economic Development & Tourism – www.lyhlovesyou.com
Lynchburg Virginia is counted among the nation’s best small cities. Located in the heart of Central Virginia, LYH is a quintessential Virginian city with rich cultural character, a vital sense of the past and a growing contemporary energy. We celebrate our history with an eye always towards the future.
Rated as a Top Adventure Town, with more than 40 miles of urban trails, a vibrant, walkable downtown, an engaging arts and cultural scene, and safe and affordable neighborhoods, the cost of living in the City of Lynchburg is 12.8% lower than the U.S. average. Our City is positioned as a hub for young people, students and families to call home.
Our 80,000 residents are smart, young and diverse with a median age of 28. LYH has recently been noted as the Best Place for Millennials, one of the South’s Cities on the Rise by Southern Living, and Top 25 College Town by Travel + Leisure. The City’s colleges and universities confer more than 24,000 degrees annually and this pipeline has grown more than 10% over the last five years.
We are a city that makes things and produces talent for the world. Our top industries include nuclear engineering, manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance, retail trade and higher education. More than 6,000 people work in the manufacturing sector, 22% higher than the national average. Some of our top industries include names like BWX Technologies, Inc., Framatome, Harris Corporation, Centra Heatlh, Frito-Lay, Delta Star and Belvac.
We know you will love LYH because it’s leaning into its future by repurposing, revitalizing and redefining itself without losing the sights, sounds, materials and textures of its history. We are a small city with an outsized ambition to become a truly welcoming place, working with energy and pride to look the future in the eye and offer a seat at the table for all. LYH Loves You.