This week marks the end of a forty-plus-year career in education where cooperation, collaboration, and servant leadership are at the core of Dr. Tony Baldwin’s style; Dr. Baldwin will officially retire as Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools on Monday, October 31. To celebrate this next chapter, central office staff arranged a retirement drop-in for Dr. Baldwin before the October board meeting. The attendees included former fellow educators, superintendents, directors, BCS staff, and friends and family.
“It was a wonderful time to reflect on my time as a superintendent,” said Dr. Baldwin. “I’m so appreciative of the individuals that came and the recognition they provided.”
Dr. Baldwin began his education career in 1979 as head women’s basketball coach and assistant director of athletics at Belmont Abbey College. His first job in BCS was Assistant Principal at T. C. Roberson High. He held principalships at Valley Springs Middle and Reynolds High School. In 2004, he became Associate Superintendent. In 2009, he was selected to serve as Superintendent.
“Dr. Baldwin’s leadership of our school system has been outstanding,” said Buncombe County Board of Education Chair Ann Franklin. “He has the ability to work with all types of people. He embodies the qualities of being a listener, thinker, analyzer, and thoughtful decision maker.”
Dr. Baldwin says his drive to excel in this leadership position was influenced by many mentors in his life.
“The personal and professional influence that prior superintendents and mentors had on me really motivated my decisions,” he said. “To name a few, Dr. J. Frank Yeager and Cliff Dodson played a huge role in helping me shape my leadership style and build important relationships throughout our school system.”
With a focus on student success, Dr. Baldwin has supported several important district initiatives including:
- School safety with an emphasis on increasing personnel (SROs), physical building upgrades, and a focus on the social-emotional health of our students and staff.
- Global education with the adoption and expansion of our dual language Spanish immersion programs, access to world languages, and international exchange programs.
- The Graduation Initiative, which ensures all students have resources to overcome challenges to acquiring their diplomas. Over the past decade, the BCS graduation rate has continued to improve and exceeds the state average
- A focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education in order to prepare students to be critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and team players who can tackle the challenges of the future.
- The competition of Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr. Discovery Academy, the first STEM high school in Western North Carolina. The school received statewide recognition as a STEM School of Distinction. Parallel to the STEM school, Dr. Baldwin advocated for more STEM opportunities for younger grades across our district.
-Affordable housing for teachers was a major milestone with the completion of the Williams-Baldwin Teacher Campus. This two-building complex provides BCS staff an opportunity to rent spacious two-bedroom units at well-below-market prices.
-Finally, an emphasis on instructional technology with our Digital 1:1 program to ensure all students have access to a school-issued laptop or iPad.
“Our vision for each student who moves through the school system is for them to reach their full potential and become successful, responsible citizens in a diverse, global society,” said Dr. Baldwin. “The primary responsibilities of public schools in a democratic society are to guide children and young adults in the acquisition of knowledge; to recognize and appreciate human differences; to equip students with essential skills and attitudes for living a productive, useful, and satisfying life; and to develop in students the desire to be lifelong learners."
As Dr. Baldwin reflects on the past thirteen years of service as Superintendent, he says his best memories of his tenure in Buncombe County Schools surround the positive engagement he experienced with students, staff, and community stakeholders.
“A lasting memory of Dr. Baldwin is he taught by example,” said Ms. Franklin. He saw the ability in others and fostered an environment where people could grow and excel. Our lives are richer because of working with him.”