By Taylor Boyd
Schools Superintendent Dean Gilbert plans to retire September 30.
Gilbert, who has served as Superintendent since Jan. 1, 2020, said it was time.
“I’ve been at this for a good while and just decided that it might be a good time to retire and move to a different stage of life,” he said.
Gilbert started his education career in 1995 in Henry County after originally working in accounting for five years. In 1999 he started working at Patrick County High School as an assistant principal for four years. He then became the principal of Meadows of Dan Elementary School from 2003 to 2006, and then joined the central office.
Gilbert was named assistant superintendent during the tenure of then-superintendent Roger Morris. He served as acting superintendent from Aug. 2013 to Feb. 2014.
“Then, I kind of took a step back for a while and I was Director of Operations and Adult Education for about a year and then I became superintendent,” he said, adding by the time he retires he will have served in this position for 21 months.
Gilbert said the most challenging part of the job came last year with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been an ever-changing situation,” he said. However, the pandemic and other challenging years are also among his favorite accomplishments.
“Those years like when we missed 20-somethings days of school because of bad weather and our test scores would still be amazing. Things like that are always incredible. To see our school system when we are faced with a challenge pull together and get through it and still get through it on top of things,” he said.
Throughout his tenure, Gilbert and the school division have faced multiple highs and lows including a fire that demolished Meadows of Dan Elementary School, years with low enrollment throughout the division, and having to create and adjust the school’s budgets.
“It has been a lot more ups than downs. Working here has been very rewarding and an honor and a privilege to be superintendent on two different occasions,” he said.
As the second most senior administrator in the county, Gilbert has had the opportunity to see teachers assume leadership roles and become principals or instructional coordinators.
“It’s always good to see people that were once students at the high school come back and work for the school system in the capacity of a teacher, custodian, or teacher’s assistant and really do good work for you. It’s always rewarding to see students that you worked with come back to work for the same school system and really thrive,” he said.
During his retirement, Gilbert still plans to work some and pursue a part-time job. He also plans to spend more time on his hobbies like gardening, hiking, and biking.
“Of course, I’ve got elderly parents I’ve got to help some too,” he added.