Montgomery County Public Schools’ Human Resources Director Annie Whitaker will begin her new role as deputy superintendent on July 1.

Whitaker, who has worked for MCPS since 2016, replaces Lois Graham, who is retiring following nearly four decades in public education.

Along with Assistant Superintendent of Operations Tommy Kranz, Whitaker will be just under Superintendent Mark Miear in the school district’s chain of command.

“I am honored to continue serving Montgomery County Public Schools and look forward to spending more time in schools with our outstanding students, teachers and leaders,” according to a prepared statement from Whitaker. “Dr. Graham is an unrivaled mentor and leader; I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from her during the last few years and am humbled to have been chosen to serve as deputy superintendent as she enters retirement.”

Whitaker has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Radford University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in education from East Tennessee State University.

Whitaker’s more than 17 years in public education include stints as assistant principal of Pulaski Middle School and Galax Elementary School.

Just prior to joining MCPS, Whitaker was an assistant superintendent at Bland County Public Schools.

The deputy superintendent directly oversees all schools and educational programs. The job also directly supervises various director positions and all school principals.

Graham’s retirement set off a chain of job shifts within the school district’s central office and some of the schools themselves.

For example, Whitaker’s promotion to deputy superintendent opened the human resources director slot, which will be filled by current Eastern Montgomery High School Principal Danny Knott.

Below are the other administrative changes prompted by Graham’s retirement:

  • Interim Blacksburg High School Principal Todd Lewis will be the new principal at Eastern Montgomery High.
  • Current Administrator of Student Services Melissa Hipple will be the new assistant principal at Blacksburg High, a position Lewis held until he was appointed to the interim principal job in early May.
  • MCPS is currently searching for candidates for administrator of student services.

“I have loved serving Montgomery County Public Schools,” Graham said in a prepared statement. “It is truly a progressive and outstanding school system. I am looking forward to retirement and spending more time with family and traveling.”

Graham is slated to remain as a consultant for the school district’s 2019-20 strategic planning process, MCPS spokeswoman Brenda Drake said.

Director of Student Services job filled

Another central office position that was recently filled is the director of student services, a function that current Christiansburg Middle School Principal Jason Garretson will assume, according to Drake.

Garretson’s promotion provides clarity on the future of former Blacksburg High Principal Brian Kitts, who had initially been chosen to serve in the student services job.

Kitts was abruptly replaced as Blacksburg High’s principal early last month. MCPS officials provided no reason for his departure and declined to speak on his exact future with the school district.

Kitts’ departure sparked a sit-in protest by his former students and drew community uproar. That controversy came on the heels of a Blacksburg High history teacher’s own abrupt departure, which triggered similar backlash from parents and students.

Of Garretson, Kitts, in a message to a Roanoke Times reporter, wrote: “Jason is a great man and a wonderful administrator. I know he will serve the students of our school division well, and I wish him all the very best.”

Garretson said he’ll miss working at Christiansburg Middle, but is excited to be able to serve all the schools in the school district.

“It is very satisfying for me to know that my prior experience working with young people and my interest in emergency management can be applied in my new position,” Garretson said in a statement. “I am blessed by this opportunity and look forward to making a positive impact in our county.”

Garretson’s promotion also triggered some administrative changes within some of the schools:

  • Micah Mefford, current principal of Margaret Beeks Elementary School, will be the new Christiansburg Middle principal.
  • Marcia Settle, current Auburn Elementary School principal, will be the new Margaret Beeks Elementary principal.
  • Kim Rygas, Auburn Elementary’s current assistant principal, will become her school’s principal.
  • Megan Hawley, currently a teacher at Margaret Beeks Elementary, will become assistant principal at Auburn Elementary.

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Yann Ranaivo covers local government and politics in the New River Valley, including Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Radford and Montgomery County.

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