WJCC schools superintendent resigns for role at VDOE

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 WJCC School Division Superintendent Steven Constantino reads "One More Sheep" by Mij Kelly to students at Matoaka Elementary School March 2, 2016. (Matthew Best/ WYDaily)
WJCC School Division Superintendent Steven Constantino reads “One More Sheep” by Mij Kelly to students at Matoaka Elementary School March 2, 2016. (Matthew Best/ WYDaily)

Steven Constantino resigned Tuesday night from his post as superintendent of Williamsburg James City County Schools.

Constantino, who was named superintendent in 2011, will leave to become the Virginia Department of Education’s chief academic officer and assistant superintendent for instruction, effective August 15.

He succeeds John “Billy” Haun, who retired from the department in June to serve as executive director of the Virginia High School League.

“I’m very excited, but honestly I have mixed emotions. Five and a half years of my life have been spent working in this tremendous school district, so a natural part of me will miss kids in the classrooms and seeing a vision come to life every day,” Constantino said. “I am tremendously excited and honored to have this opportunity, quite humbled actually.”

As superintendent, Constantino spearheaded the effort to fund and construct a fourth middle school, supported the implementation of several technology initiatives, including Manufacturing Day and Project Lead the Way, and improved graduation rates, all while maintaining full accreditation for all WJCC schools, according to a WJCC Schools news release.

He was named Region Two Superintendent of the Year in 2015.

“The Commonwealth’s gain is our loss,” said WJCC School Board Chairman Jim Kelly (Jamestown). “He has done tremendous things here.”

As a former principal, Constantino said it was important for him to keep his “principal hat” on and avoid making decisions “in a vacuum” as superintendent. Now as a state official, he said he hopes he won’t forget his “superintendent hat.”

“I have learned now as superintendent that every decision you make has some consequences. You have to be very, very thoughtful and very deliberate about what you do,” he said. “I hope I can carry that philosophy to the state.”

Constantino’s career in education began in the 1980s as an educator in upstate New York. He has worked as a music teacher, band director, district director of fine arts, assistant principal, principal and deputy superintendent, according to a VDOE news release.

“Steven is an innovative instructional leader with a national reputation for improving outcomes for students and engaging families and communities,” said Steven R. Staples, the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a VDOE news release. “His experience and energy will be invaluable as the department guides Virginia’s 132 school divisions into an era when all schools — from the highest-performing to the most challenged — will be expected to focus on continuous improvement.”

The WJCC School Board has 180 days from the resignation date to select a new superintendent. Kelly said an interim would be chosen by Aug. 15.

“Hiring a CEO is not something you take lightly,” said Kelly, who was on the school board when Constantino was hired. “I was the newbie on the block. I learned a lot from my fellow board members. I hope to take that forward with me.”