Cleveland Winfield, who was last year’s Teacher of the Year for Richmond County Public Schools, will take on the role of Faculty Athletics Representative for Rappahannock High School.
At Wednesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Greg Smith credited Winfield and RHS principal Jesse Boyd for coming up with the position, which will be implemented for the first time this school year.
“We were seeing some unsatisfactory results from our student athletes … and we began to consider how we could more closely monitor the academic performance of these young [people],” Smith said Wednesday at the Richmond County School Board meeting.
In the role of Faculty Athletics Representative, Winfield will serve as academic advisor to student athletes as well as a liaison between the RHS athletic department and parents of said student athletes.
Winfield said he wants the student athletes to know that their success and education means a lot to him.
“If it means a lot to me, hopefully it means a lot to them and their preparation for the future,” Winfield. “I want them to know that I’m constantly learning, constantly working to improve my craft, and that I aspire to continue my education.”
He will be letting students know that he plans to enter a PhD program, thereby showing them that even as a professional, he is continuously seeking to expand his horizons.
As the FAR, Winfield looks to provide advice for success in certain classes as well as guidance for college and career readiness preparation.
He will monitor students in regards to their academic performance, their eligibility for participation in Virginia High School League activities, their behavior and their attendance.
“In order to do that, I’m going to have to correspond on a regular basis with the Athletic Directors at RHS as well as [Richmond County Intermediate],” Winfield said. “If I have any concerns about grades and academic integrity, then I’ll definitely be keeping in contact with administration as well as the coaches and parents.”
Winfield said he aims to be visible at as many sporting events as possible for each and every team, as well as the athletic banquets for every team.
Winfield said he will develop a tutoring schedule for each student athlete regardless of his or her past academic track record.
Winfield noted that attendance at tutoring sessions will vary among the student athletes, adding that students who struggle in multiple classes, he will request that they attend tutoring sessions Monday through Friday.
“I’m going to work real hard to try to enforce this,” Winfield said. “That means if I have to literally walk a student to the tutoring session, I’ll do that. I had to do that some last year.
“I’m going to talk to the parents about concerns in regards to students’ grades and academic success, but I also want to praise students for their academic excellence or their improvement,” Winfield added. “I don’t want to be seen as a resource who only contacts them when something’s wrong. I think it means a lot to the parents and students if they know that we are proud of them when they excel or improve.”
Winfield also wants to encourage coaches and student athletes to embrace community service, get involved with RHS clubs and organizations and work with a person or program from the local community.
Within this process, Winfield will exercise model volunteerism by informing student athletes of two volunteer programs he is undertaking at The Orchard in Warsaw: a series of creative workshops with Orchard residents from September through December, and The Orchard’s Fresh Open Mic Night.
“Students can help out in a variety of ways,” Winfield noted. “They could cohost the event … they could perform literary and/or musical selections; believe it or not, just their attendance at open mic means a lot to the residents.”
Winfield added that students who are shy and/or prefer to work behind the scenes can participate in other ways such as baking goods and/or preparing refreshments for the open mic sessions.
“If we place emphasis on the student first, I think everything else will fall into place,” Winfield said. “Academic focus plus community service equals Raider Pride.
“Are there any initial questions or concerns?” Winfield asked people at the meeting.
They responded with applause.
School Board Member Brenda Pemberton noted that she was in awe of Winfield’s ambitious approach in setting up the program and praised his level of commitment.
“You’re looking at the whole child, and that’s terrific,” Pemberton said.