HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The Henrico county school system has a new leader. Dr. Patrick Russo was sworn in Wednesday as superintendent. He comes from the Hampton City School District where he held the same position.
Dr. Russo joins Henrico County from a school district where many students speak something other than English as their primary language. The school board is hoping Russo can produce similar results here in Henrico, in its increasingly diverse school system.
Dr. Russo is now in charge of 48,000 Henrico county students. With more than three decades of experience - the veteran school leader says his top priority is to help all children, especially those who may have special needs or a language barrier.
"When you look at school systems throughout this country and in the commonwealth, and especially in Henrico, there is a real desire and commitment to help every kid," said Dr. Russo.
And Russo has some big shoes to fill. He succeeds former superintendent Fred Morton - who's been praised for starting a dropout prevention program and even held the title of Virginia's superintendent of the year.
Russo has a long list of awards too and is known for his work in accreditation and teacher advocacy. In Hampton, he worked with teachers and the school board to create some of the highest pay increases seen in Virginia for years. Russo hopes to show Henrico that they made the right choice by building on what's already there.
"What's nice about it is this is a wonderful system, and a well functioning system, great results. We've got some areas we need to improve on as far as accreditation and AYP, but in everything I've been able to do in my research this is a wonderful system that continues to provide a great education for kids. My job, in some small way, is how I help it and how we work together to achieve that next level of greatness," said Russo.
Patrick Russo is married with five children and upping the pressure to do a good job as superintendent is the fact that his school aged twins Ashleigh and Patrick will attend elementary school here in the public school system.