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By PAMELA GOULD
The Spotsylvania County School Board on Monday named Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Scott Baker the division's next superintendent.
Baker, 43, will succeed Shelley K. Redinger, who leaves at the end of the school year to become superintendent of Spokane, Wash., public schools.
Redinger hired Baker last July. He was one of two top-level hires Redinger made after being chosen as Spotsylvania's superintendent last year.
This will be Baker's first superintendent position. However, board members Amanda Blalock and Linda Wieland, who co-chaired the superintendent search committee, said no one on the board had any concerns about that.
"He has worked side by side with Dr. Redinger and has proven he has the skills," Blalock said.
Board member Gil Seaux echoed that.
"This was not something given to you but earned," Seaux said.
Redinger came to Spotsylvania with four years of experience overseeing the 4,200-student Oregon Trail School District near Portland.
Baker, who was born in Roanoke, has two decades of experience in education, all in Virginia.
He came to Spotsylvania from Hanover County public schools, where he spent four years as the director of curriculum and instruction for kindergarten through grade 12.
Before that, he worked as principal of Hanover's Chickahominy Middle School from 2003-07. He served as assistant principal of Lee-Davis High School there from 2000-03.
But Baker was no stranger to Spotsylvania when he was hired by Redinger.
He spent three years with the division before leaving for Hanover County, where he and his family still live.
Baker started at Spotsylvania High School in August 1998 as an administrative intern and theater arts teacher. He spent the next year there as a full-time administrative intern. He spent his third year as assistant principal of what was then John J. Wright Middle School.
Board member Ray Lora said Monday night that it was a pleasure to have watched Baker grow through his career and that his next role makes for an exciting time for the county.
Lora noted that Baker should not consider that he is "replacing Redinger" but that he has an opportunity to "blaze a trail."
Board members repeated one phrase Monday night as they commented on Baker's selection.
They called him "a perfect match."
"It's because we had that perfect match, we didn't have to look any further," board member Jim Meyer said. "That doesn't usually happen.
Board members noted that Baker's personality, skills and strengths align perfectly with the community profile created last year when the division was preparing to hire Redinger.
Wieland announced the selection at the end of a work session. She spoke on behalf of herself and Blalock, who was present but had laryngitis.
Wieland noted that in selecting Baker, the division has the opportunity to continue the momentum begun by Redinger this year.
The board and the handful of employees in the audience during the announcement gave Baker a standing ovation after he was named the next superintendent.
Wieland reviewed the process the board followed in selecting Baker. She said the board first looked at internal candidates and quickly reached consensus about him, given what they had observed over the past year.
Baker was interviewed twice over the past two weeks, the first time for three hours.
Wieland and board member Dawn Shelley noted his passion for education, for students and staff.
He was also described as a good listener and someone engaged in the community.
Baker's contract is expected to be finalized today. He will be expected to move to Spotsylvania, since superintendents are routinely required to live within their divisions.
He and Dawn Baker, his wife of 20 years, have two children, a 17-year-old daughter, Noel, and a 10-year-old son, Paul.
Baker said Monday night that when he was in college, he was interested in the creative arts, hoping to become an actor, writer or playwright.
But he found his place in education.
Baker earned his bachelor's degree in English with a minor in theater arts from Radford University. He then got his special education teaching credentials from the University of Virginia, where in 2010 he received his doctorate.
He said he grew into the role of a school administrator.
"I think it's a calling," he said. "I think you get called to different levels of leadership, and you respond."
In accepting the position of Spotsylvania superintendent, Baker is responding to a calling also felt by his father.
Stephen Baker served as superintendent of schools when West Point and King William County schools had one overseer. He also served as superintendent of Hanover County schools before his retirement.
Both of Baker's parents are expected to attend a reception for him at the administration building before next Monday's School Board meeting. The reception is open to the public and begins at 5:30 p.m.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
University of Virginia, special education K-12 teaching endorsement, August 1995.
Virginia Commonwealth University, master of education in K-12 administration and supervision, August 2000.
University of Virginia, doctor of education in administration and supervision, May 2010.EXPERIENCE: Arlington County, Williamsburg Middle School, autistic integration facilitator, 1992-93.
King William County, special education teacher, grades 4-8, 1993-94; high school English and theater arts teacher, 1994-97.
Spotsylvania County, Spotsylvania High School, administrative intern/theater arts teacher, 1997-98; Spotsylvania High, administrative intern, 1998-99; John J. Wright Middle School, assistant principal, 1999-2000.
Hanover County, high school assistant principal, 2000-03; middle school principal, 2003-07; division's director of curriculum and instruction for kindergarten through 12th grade, 2007-11.