When the Middleburg Community Charter School opened classes for the new school year with a new principal on Aug. 1, it appeared to be fairly routine. But behind the scenes, the smooth opening was the culmination of quite a scramble.
During a community forum last week, school leaders formally introduced Stephen Robinson as the school’s new principal and also shared the story of his hiring.
After the departure of Principal Rochelle Proctor at the end of the previous school year in June, school leaders conducted a nationwide search for her replacement. The search committee found unanimous agreement to hire Robinson, who served as vice principal of Washington, DC’s Imagine Hope Community Charter School since 2015.
It turns out the selection was the easy part.
The next step was getting Robinson the required certification to serve as an administrator in Virginia—a task that typically takes three months to complete. Robinson had about four weeks.
“We were in an unbelievable pinch to get Stephen approved,” said Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton, who serves on the school’s board of directors.
While Loudoun County Public Schools staff worked to quickly file the required paperwork, Littleton reached out to Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27) to get some help in Richmond.
“Jill said, ‘I’ve got it. Don’t worry,’” Littleton told the attendees gathered in the school’s auditorium. By the time paperwork arrived, both the governor’s office and the Department of Education were on alert for it. Ten days later, Robinson had his certification in hand.
The Middleburg Town Council adopted a resolution of appreciation for Vogel.
“You shouldn’t get honors for doing your job,” Vogel said when presented with the resolution, adding that she understands the importance of having community schools.
Robinson said he was ready to give up on the grind of DC traffic and return home to Cleveland when a member of the search firm contacted him to gauge his interest in the Middleburg position. The interview went well, and he soon found himself adjusting to a shorter commute and to small-town life.
“The school is awesome. The scholars, fantastic. The parents, I can’t thank the parents enough,” Robinson said.
In addition to encouraging creative thinking through the DaVinci education model that is promoted at the school, Robinson said he wants to focus on helping students maintain high character and become leaders in their class, community and beyond.
He also emphasized the importance of having students excited about learning. “At MCCS, our vision is to have your scholar, when they arrive here and when they leave here, they’re excited. It is a place where they truly love to be … and they can’t wait to return the next day,” he said.
The school emphasizes project-based learning and a progressive, whole-child approach with a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics)-based curriculum taught to blended classrooms (grades K/1, 2/3, and 4/5).
The school has room for 150 students. Seats at the public charter elementary school are open to any students in the county and the classes have space available for additional students this year.