District picks successor for Gills at Cumberland County Elementary

Published 5:10 am Saturday, March 30, 2024

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Now we know who the next principal at Cumberland County Elementary will be. And it’s someone very familiar to students and staff. Wendy Tillett, the school’s current assistant principal, will take over the top seat when current principal Virginia Gills retires on June 30. During her time in Cumberland, Tillett has been a teacher, a coordinator of special education and now an assistant principal. 

The decision was made soon after Gills made one of her own. The longtime Cumberland Elementary principal announced on Wednesday, March 27 that she’ll be retiring at the end of this school year. District Superintendent Chip Jones said he wanted to make sure everyone knew who would be taking over, to avoid questions for the rest of the semester. He credited Tillett, saying she’s been part of a great team. 

“Ms. Gills and Ms. Tillett are a great administrative team at CCES and complement each other well,” Jones said. “They have built a strong rapport within the school building as well as outside of the schools. As you know, there are many things happening in education right now such as the implementation of the Virginia Literacy Act, implementation of new math standards, the beginning of the integrated reading and writing test, continuing to reduce chronic absenteeism percentages, recruitment and retention of staff, understanding the proposed accreditation model, and more. With the appointment of Ms. Tillett as next leader of CCES, this will help minimize the question of “who will be our principal?”

Breaking down the numbers 

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When Jones talks about the work Gills and Tillett have done at Cumberland County Elementary, he’s not joking. Since before the pandemic, the school has been significantly above the state average pass rate for English and Math. In Math, 88% of students passed this last year. By comparison, the state average is 70%. In English, 82% of students passed, more than the state;s 75% average.  

Tillett’s vision for the school revolves around creating a supportive and inclusive learning community where every student feels valued, inspired, and empowered to reach their full potential. She plans to build upon the school’s existing strengths and implement strategies to enhance academic achievement.

New Cumberland County Elementary principal

Tillett is actively involved in both the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Presently, she holds positions on the Region 8 VLA committee, VTSS committee, and the School Success team. Additionally, she contributes as a member of the VaLin committee and the Bridging the Gap committee.

She recently presented at the Women Education Leaders in Virginia (WELV) conference on relationships and family engagement, and she has also been a guest co-host for the NAESP Assistant Principal Community of Practice Conversations and Connections program where she discussed successful student discipline strategies.  

And Tillet is a Longwood graduate from the Class of ‘93, later earning a masters in Educational Leadership from Longwood as well in 2013. Tillett and her family reside in Cumberland, and her daughters are graduates of Cumberland County Public Schools.