HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The first day of school is like "game day" to Amy Cashwell, but of the 20 "first days" she has seen over her education career, Tuesday is likely the biggest. Cashwell became the new Superintendent of Henrico County School on July 1 and greeted students at Wilder Middle School on her first school day on the job.
"The same excitement around game day is sort of how I feel about the first day of school. I'm really excited," she said.
Cashwell, who previously served as Chief Academic Officer for Virginia Beach Schools, is the first woman to serve as Henrico Schools Superintendent. She calls education her passion and that it all began in 1998, the first year she stood in front of a classroom.
Cashwell said she took over a second grade classroom during the middle of the school year, and remembers helping a little boy who could not read over the course of the school year.
"That light bulb moment. It was the first time as a teacher I saw a student not know how to do something and learn how to do it for the first time," Cashwell said.
Bringing that personal touch into classrooms across the county will be a challenge for Cashwell as the student population in Henrico County totals more than 50,000. Cashwell said the goal under her leadership is to develop programs and curriculum with student experience always top of mind.
"There are a lot of times barriers and things that can get in the way for learning. We want to make sure we are removing barriers and creating opportunities to thrive," she said.
More than 40 percent of Henrico students live in economically disadvantaged homes. Cashewll said successful first year would mean students and families in every part of the county feel supported.
"That we truly do begin to operate as and see ourselves as one committed school division," she said.