In honor and memory of a great superintendent
“Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman, American poet
During my long tenure teaching for Bristol Virginia Public Schools I served under many great school superintendents. I could write a column about them all - and I might just do that over time. This column will highlight the life and public service of Rex Gearheart.
Rex lived and breathed Bristol Virginia Public Schools. He loved the poorest kid as much as the most well-to-do (and not everyone can understand my next words; but he probably loved the poor even more).
One of the last times I saw Rex I felt so down that I told him I intended to retire that year. Rex promptly got up from his desk and stood between me and his office door. This big, powerful man looked straight at me and said, in his deep, booming, hearty voice, “I’m bigger than you and you aren’t gettin’ out of this room until you promise me you’ll come back for at least one more year. The kids need you.”
Of course Rex would never have laid a hand on me. But his unwavering belief in me inspired me to teach on.
Rex had an equally profound and touching way of believing in kids, too. I saw him talk one-on-one with my school’s rowdiest student one day.
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