DOBSON — Longtime educator Charles Graham II is retiring at the end of the month as associate superintendent of Surry County Schools.
At last week’s monthly meeting of the county Board of Education meeting, Dr. Travis Reeves, school superintendent, announced plans for a retirement dinner June 29 for Chuck Graham, whose retirement becomes effective the next day. The school board was quick to give its thanks to his many years of service.
After other district business was concluded, the school board went into closed session to discuss personnel. After the closed session, Sonia Dickerson, director of communications, presented a statement announcing two job shifts to cover vacancies.
Kevin Via, current principal at the Surry Early College High School of Design, will take Graham’s place as one of the three assistant superintendents on staff on July 1; he joins Dr. Jeff Tunstall and Dr. Jill Reinhardt.
That creates an opening at his position, so the second announcement was that Amber Flippen, current assistant principal at North Surry, will replace Via as principal of the Surry Early College effective July 1.
The family business
Chuck, the son of another career-long educator, Charles Graham, graduated from Surry Central. After college his first job came in the Forsyth County district for three years. In 1990 he came home to Surry County, working as a health and physical education teacher for five years before moving into administration.
In 1995, he became the assistant principal at Central Middle School. He then became principal at Flat Rock Elementary for three years. In 2000, he returned to his alma mater, Surry Central, as principal, serving there four years. Since 2004, Graham served in the central office as first, assistant superintendent, and later associate superintendent for human resources.
“As associate superintendent, he has assisted assistant principals and principals with personnel issues and worked with teachers concerning licensure matters,” the school system said in a statement regarding his retirement. “He maintained an open-door policy in which he was readily available to assist parents as well.”
Dickerson said his knowledge of health benefits for all employees ranks among the highest in the state. The Transportation Department, School Nutrition Department, Title II Teacher Quality and Communications fall under his umbrella of expertise as well. Serving with different people in all these different capacities throughout his career has given him the opportunity to mentor and touch many lives.
He participated in local and regional meetings on a regular basis and was an active member of the Personnel Administrators of North Carolina serving as the state president in 2011-2012 where he was influential in making statewide decisions for human resources.
Graham said without a doubt it has been a great pleasure to work with the administrators, teachers, students, staff and parents in Surry County Schools. In retirement, he plans to catch up on 30 years of lost time with his wife, his boys, his mom and his family.
His final thought for all, “It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult — choose your words wisely.”
“Mr. Graham is a consummate professional who has dedicated his career to helping students and staff reach their full potential,” said Reeves. “Mr. Graham has the unique ability to challenge our leadership team to grow and think creatively. He has provided leadership and direction throughout the district and state of North Carolina. His strengths are many but keeping up to date with changing laws and guidelines dealing with human resources and budgeting are some of his greatest areas of excellence.
“Mr. Graham has fought vigorously over the years to maintain jobs in this district as budget cuts have continued. His effect on this district will be long lasting. I thank him personally for his years of service and the compassion that he has demonstrated to our students and employees throughout his career. I wish him a very deserved and happy retirement.”
“Chuck Graham is one of the finest individuals with whom it has been my blessing to work and to know. He is a rare combination of strength of character, integrity, compassion, and humility,” said Dr. Terri Mosley, school board chair who also worked with Graham at Surry Central years ago.
“Chuck has been a mentor and role model for administrators in our district and has been a stabilizing force within our administration during times of difficulty and change. He leaves a legacy as a true example of a servant leader and we are so blessed to have had him with us in Surry County Schools for the majority of his career,” said Mosley.
• Via received a Bachelor of Science in Adolescent Education from Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, in 1993. He added an endorsement in Learning Disabilities for Grades K-12 in 1994 from the West Virginia Graduate College. In 2004, he gained a Masters in School Administration from Appalachian State University in Boone.
Via joined Surry County Schools in 1999 as a classroom teacher. He became the assistant principal at North Surry in 2002, serving there for four years before becoming the principal at Surry Central.
In 2013, Mr. Via was named the principal at the Surry Early College. During his four years as the principal of the Surry Early College, the school received the Lighthouse Award, continued the 100% Graduation Rate and earned A+ School Rating as a state academic recognition.
He has proactively participated in the New Principals Institute with North Carolina New Schools and the Center for Creative Leadership with North Carolina New Schools. He serves as a Surry Community College Cabinet member. In addition, Via represented Surry County Schools as the Principal of the Year for 2016-2017.
• Flippen is a native of Surry County, graduating from Surry Central in 2000. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Winston-Salem State University, majoring in special education and her Master’s degree in special education from Appalachian State in 2006. She earned an administrative add-on from ASU in 2010.
Flippen taught in the Exceptional Children’s department as Shoals Elementary for six years. She was the assistant principal at White Plains Elementary for four years before serving at North Surry as assistant principal.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.