From Kindergarten Teacher to the Virginia State Board of Education
As our dear friend and ardent WELV supporter, Lorraine Lange, retires as the Superintendent of Schools in Roanoke County and opens the next chapter of her career, we are pleased and full of pride that she has been appointed to the Virginia State Board of Education. Lorraine started her career as a kindergarten teacher in Roanoke County, became a principal, and eventually made it to the superintendency. Certainly Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” applies to the stellar career of Lorraine Lang. I recently interviewed Lorraine to hear from her about the journey from kindergarten teacher to a member of the State Board of Education.
Please describe your journey from classroom teacher to school superintendent to the Virginia State Board of Education.
“I never had a burning desire to be a superintendent. I got a master’s degree with an English concentration when I finished my undergraduate degree and was teaching. Two mentors, Frank Stone 9who was my principal) and Deanna Gordon (she was the assistant principal) saw something in me. When Deanna got promoted, Mr. Stone called and asked me to be his assistant principal. I had to go back to school to get my administrative endorsement from there, Deanna encouraged me all the way to a doctorate. Everyone needs a mentor and someone cheering you along the way to better yourself.
I was a teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, a director, an assistant superintendent, a deputy superintendent before I became superintendent. I know the struggles in every job I had so I feel like I can relate to people when they have problems.
As I retire, I now have another opportunity at the state level to make a different impact on education. I have been fortunate throughout the years to be in the right place at the right time. Someone once said luck is when you get an opportunity and you are prepared.”
As you close a chapter of your career and open new chapters, what do you cherish most about your years in Roanoke County?
“I cherish the friends that I made in so many places. I still see a girl who I student taught with many years ago. Working side by side, you make lasting relationships. You literally grow up together, have families and fun together, and grieve together as we grow older. Friends are important.”
Reflecting on the classic book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, what are the lessons from this book that served you best in your life?
“I love the phrase, “Hold hands and stick together.” It is such a powerful statement. In a good school division you have a team of people who watch out for each other and work for the good of the system. You are loyal to each other. There should be no jealousy – you do for others what you would want others to do for you.”
“All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”
By Robert Fulghum
Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sand pile at Sunday school.
These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.