BEDFORD — The Bedford County School Board voted unanimously Thursday to appoint the Virginia Beach City Public Schools chief of staff as the next superintendent for Bedford County Public Schools.
Marc Bergin has served in his current position for the past six years and will assume the superintendent role in Bedford County on June 1. His three-year contract was approved by the school board Thursday.
“Bedford County is a beautiful place to live and work, and our schools have an impressive track record of achievement,” Bergin said in a news release. “I look forward to meeting and collaborating with our students, staff, parents and community members in the coming months and years to build on that tradition.”
Bergin replaces former superintendent Doug Schuch, who resigned from the division in January. Julia Rogers has been serving as interim superintendent since January and will continue to serve in the interim position until Bergin begins in June.
During his 30-year career in education, Bergin has served as an elementary school teacher, an elementary school principal and a central office administrator. Prior to his years with Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Bergin served as deputy superintendent in Moore County Schools in North Carolina. Bergin also spent five years as director of elementary education for Chesterfield County Public Schools.
In his current role as chief of staff in Virginia Beach, Bergin said he works closely with the division’s chief officers, school board members and committee members, and has gained leadership experience in budget development, curriculum and instruction, strategic planning, innovative programming and legislative advocacy.
In an interview Thursday with The News & Advance, Bergin said his interest in Bedford County is both personal and professional.
Bergin said he grew up about 30 minutes away from Bedford in the 1970s, in what then was Campbell County but since has been annexed into Lynchburg. He attended Brookville middle and high schools before his family moved to the Midwest. In the 1990s, Bergin’s parents moved back to the Bedford area, so he’s made several visits to the area during the past few decades.
Bergin holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature, a master’s degree in elementary education, a post-graduate certificate in administration and supervision, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership. He brings his wife and the younger of two sons with him to Bedford County.
In Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Bergin said he worked tirelessly through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure students continued to receive quality instruction online and in person. Bergin commended Bedford County’s COVID-19 response and mitigation plan.
“I can’t say enough about Bedford’s plan,” Bergin said. “Now, at the top of the list for Bedford and for all school divisions is getting all students back five days a week.”
Bergin said he will be working with central office staff during the next few months to plan for the fall.
Bergin said he would be making some trips to Bedford during the next few months leading up to his June 1 start date to tour schools and engage with school leaders. Prior to his start date, Bergin said he would be arranging opportunities to meet parents and community members in the various Bedford County communities.
“I want to spend my first three months on the job learning the culture of the different communities in Bedford,” Bergin said.
Bergin said he is eager to meet Bedford families, learn what they love about Bedford and hear about any ideas they have about ways to improve the school division.
“I’ll be listening intently in the coming months for people to guide me and the central leadership team to guide me in that work,” Bergin said.
Like school divisions across the state and nation, Bedford County Public Schools is seeing the effects of the pandemic on student learning and an increase in student failures. Bergin said he is committed to addressing learning gaps beginning this summer and into the next school year.
He said he hopes to first bring students who have been learning remotely back in for face-to-face instruction as soon as possible and then begin addressing academic needs of all students.
During the application and interview processes, Bergin said he got to know the division and already has ideas for improvement.
Bergin said he noticed opportunity gaps across the division, as the three high schools vary in their course offerings, including in career and technical education, advanced placement and dual enrollment classes.
“A child’s ZIP code shouldn’t dictate their access to coursework,” Bergin said. “Even though we’re three different high schools and we have a uniqueness about us which should be cherished and upheld, we’re also a school division.”
Bergin thanked Rogers for her service as interim superintendent and said he hopes to work closely with her during the next few months to ensure a seamless transition for the community.
In August, the board hired consulting firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent.
Jason Johnson, chair of the school board, said Thursday the board received 24 completed applications for the position, from both internal and external applicants across Virginia and 12 other states.
Johnson welcomed Bergin to the division.
“In all of our conversations, Dr. Bergin has emphasized the importance of keeping students at the center of our work as a school division,” Johnson said in a statement. “We know that Dr. Bergin’s experience and vast knowledge of emerging research and educational best practices will allow him to take Bedford County Public Schools to the next level as a leader for public education in Central Virginia.”
Bergin said he is eager to have a collaborative relationship with the school board.
“It is OK that there isn’t a unanimous vote on a decision. What is important is that all voices are heard with respect, we understand one another’s point of view and, whenever possible, we work collaboratively to find common ground,” Bergin said. “I am very confident that I can do that with this school board.”
Bergin said he is “thrilled” to be returning to the area with his family.
“I grew up along the Blue Ridge,” Bergin said. “I have very fond memories of Sunday mornings after church going up to the Peaks of Otter, and I’m looking forward to recreating all of that again. I’ve missed being here.”