‘I am a passionate educator’: Meet Henrico’s first female superintendent

HENRICO COUNTY, Va., -- In an unanimous vote held during a special session Tuesday morning, the Henrico County School Board selected the district's first female superintendent.

Dr. Amy E. Cashwell was announced as the new leader of Henrico County Public Schools, amid a packed meeting room at the New Bridge Learning Center.

Cashwell currently serves as the chief academic officer for Virginia Beach School's Department of Teaching and Learning, where she oversees a number of departments, according to a press release.

The mother of two girls began her career as a teacher in Virginia Beach in 1998 before rising to assistant principal and then principal. She's held her current role since 2013.

Cashwell was chosen out of 27 applicants who applied for the the top job in Henrico.

"I am honored to have worked with my fellow school board members in selecting Dr. Cashwell to be our next superintendent," said Michelle "Micky" Ogburn, School Board chair, in a press release. "Her experience as a classroom teacher and extensive leadership across many facets of Virginia Beach Public Schools as their chief academic officer bode well for her success in guiding HCPS to even greater achievement. She charted a course that resulted in bringing all VBCPS schools across the line to accreditation and in making equity a driving principle in day-to-day operations of the school system."

When asked how Henrico Public schools could improve in the future under her leadership, Cashwell didn't immediately offer any specifics, but called on the public to join the conversation.

"I would want to hear from the Henrico community and hear from our teachers and students, parents, businesses in the local community and see what they see as areas for growth or challenge areas. Then we will work together to find solutions or a way forward," Cashwell explained.

Several forums are expected to be scheduled so the new superintendent can talk with families, students, staff members and Henrico citizens about concerns and questions.

"I am a passionate educator. I am an avid advocate for public education. Even though I left the classroom many years ago, I think of myself as a teacher at heart," Cashwell said.

Cashwell earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies and education from Longwood University, a master's degree and a doctorate in education administration from George Washington University.  She's a Virginia Beach native.

"Hopefully she'll be able to galvanize parents to action in a way that makes us all more accountable and inclusive," Henrico parent Tamer Mokhtar said about Cashwell's hiring. "Henrico County is kinda like two different mini counties, so hopefully she'll be able to bring a little more parity without taking one in order to provide a resource to the other."

Earlier this year, Henrico County Public Schools superintendent Pat Kinlaw announced his plans to retire on June 30 at the end of the school year.

Kinlaw had served as Henrico Superintendent since 2014.

Cashwell will be paid a base salary of $211,384.93 plus a $1,200 per month car allowance for a total of $225,784.93. Kinlaw was given the same car allowance.

The new superintendent will start her job on July 1.