Everidge’s Legacy A Model For Any Superintendent

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sometimes a little perspective is helpful. That’s why we went with new Davie County Schools Superintendent Darrin Hartness to see James E. Everidge last week.
Compared to the school system Everidge inherited in 1964, Hartness is walking into a good situation. Despite our Decade of Disagreement, these are good times. The elementary schools are modern and well managed. The middle schools are the envy of systems across the state. If we could finally pull together on the high school … this would be Eden.
Everidge’s legacy is remarkable.
The elementary schools across the county were firetraps, slightly better than barns. I was a student at Farmington Elementary when a large chuck of plaster fell from the ceiling and thumped a very surprised Buck Hanes on the head. Classrooms were chilly in winter, sweltering in summer. Large radiators clanged loudly through the day. When the windows were flung open in spring, principal Dwight Jackson caught flies bare-fisted as they buzzed about him in the classroom. He served as principal, teacher and coach. Each grade could barely muster 20 students.
Everidge led a massive building effort to replace all the elementary schools. Farmington and Smith Grove were abandoned for a new Pinebrook Elementary. Two junior highs were built later. Even better, classroom performance was emphasized through a variety of teaching innovations. “Good enough” wasn’t good enough for Everidge. He liked to tinker.
When schools across the South were ordered to integrate, Davie did so thoroughly and peacefully. No half measures here. Everidge didn’t fight the Supreme Court ruling. Despite all the racial unrest in other systems, Davie integrated with remarkable calm.
Much of the county’s residential growth was propelled by the sterling reputation of the school system.
Davie County benefitted from Everidge’s 17-year tenure. The schools have struggled with the revolving door that has been on the superintendent’s office for the past decade. We’re hoping Hartness will set deep roots here and start his own legacy.
He played all the right tunes for our ears last week, promising to emphasize the nuts and bolts of running a school that delivers success in the classroom. He’s not interested in continuing the drama into a second decade. Teachers will be supported. Students will be expected to succeed.
Like Everidge, Hartness will have to deal with a cantankerous county commission. The commissioners like nothing better than to tell the school board what to do. They might relax a bit and let the new superintendent take charge. He seems to know what he’s doing.
We are not in a glass half-full or half-empty situation. The Davie County Schools’ glass is better than three-fourths full. This new superintendent might find a way to fill the glass. He promised good days are …