SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- Gary Rutz, the chairman of the Shenandoah County School Board from 2007-2013, presided over his final School Board meeting on December 12, 2013.
He has lived almost his entire life in Shenandoah County, and for the most part, his life has been spent serving students and teachers in Shenandoah County Public Schools.
During the meeting, Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent of Schools, recognized Rutz for his years of service as an educator and as a member and chairman of the Shenandoah County School Board.
Raley listed some of the school division’s accomplishments during Rutz’s tenure:
The school division participated with Ameresco in an energy performance contract and saved over $722,000 in utility costs since Going Green in 2008. Also, the division achieved full State accreditation for all nine schools for thirteen consecutive years, and met all Federal Annual Measurable Objectives in 2013.
Before presenting his written statement, an almost tearful Rutz thanked his wife Anne and teachers and everyone else who supported him during his years in education.
"I want to thank everyone that I have worked with while I have been on the board. I especially want to thank my fellow board members. We learned a lot from each other. We have a great school system in Shenandoah County with great students, great teachers and great staff from bus drivers to administrators and all other positions in between. Do we always get everything right – no but we try to. I would put this school system up against any other in the state with comparable revenue flow, composite index and so forth."
All of the School Board members thanked Rutz for his years of service.
More recently, Rick Knootz, the current Vice-Chairman and former Chairman of the School Board, wrote this tribute:
"Gary has been a tremendous asset to the school board and our school system. He has been a pleasure to work with while serving as chairman of the school board. I have learned a great deal from Gary as far as his leadership abilities and him as a person. Gary is always fair, honest, and always wants to do what is best for the school division. He has worked hard as the chair in keeping the board focused on all the many important issues we are faced with during our monthly meetings, committee meetings, and budget work sessions. He has helped our board to work together as a board and not our individual desires or wishes. Gary has helped SCPS to be a better school division through all his dedicated time and years of service. Thanks Gary!"
Rutz has spent his life in the Valley.
He was born in Woodstock and was raised on a small farm near town and graduated from Central High School in 1965, where he played basketball and football and ran track.
With plans to begin his own business, Gary earned a bachelor's degree in 1969 from Virginia Tech in Business Administration and later a master's in School Administration in 1982 from James Madison University.
As a child, he loved sports and wanted to be a professional athlete when he grew up. While that didn't come true, his love of sports led him to coaching which led him to teaching, a career that surprised him.
Apart from his maternal grandfather, who taught in the old Forestville school, there had been no teachers among close acquaintances or family members.
With the exception of one year in Patrick County in Southwest Virginia, Mr. Rutz spent thirty-two years as a teacher or an administrator in Shenandoah County Public Schools.
During that time he taught math, physical education, and technology.
He coached Middle School boys’ and girls’ basketball, JV boys’ basketball, JV track, and JV football. He was also an assistant varsity girls’ and assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach and, as well, volunteered in other coaching capacities.
Rutz taught and coached at Woodstock Elementary School, Toms Brook Elementary School, and Edinburg Middle School before serving as assistant principal at Central High School and principal at New Market Middle School.
In the fall of 1989, Mr. Rutz returned to the classroom as a technology teacher, working first at Woodstock Middle School and then at Peter Muhlenberg.
The work of both teachers and administrators has its “ups and downs,” he said; however, he preferred teaching since that position allowed him more time with his own family.
“Some teachers think middle school is challenging, and it is,” he admitted. “You have students in the sixth grade who think they are in high school, and you have eight graders who act like they are in the third grade.”
Rutz, who has taught students at all three levels, welcomed the challenge and declared that teaching middle school students was his favorite role.
After his retirement from Shenandoah County Public Schools in 2005, Rutz was elected to the school board and served two terms and from 2007-2013, served as the chairman of the Shenandoah County School Board.
When his second term expired in 2013, he chose not to run for re-election.
Not quite ready to totally give up his part in public education, Rutz has promised Raley that he is willing to serve on short-term committees.
Rutz, who has been a real estate agent since 2004, is employed by Skyline Team Real Estate and handles residential and commercial real estate and rentals.
In his rare spare time, he tries to keep physically fit. He walks and runs and works out at the gym. Now and then, he finds time for a game of golf. He and his wife Anne live in Woodstock and are members of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
Rutz is the father of three children and three grandchildren. In different ways, all of his children have followed in his footsteps.
Olivia, who is a partner in an accounting firm in Winchester, reflects her dad, the math teacher, his son Ryan, like his father, has coached JV Basketball at Central High School for several years and, daughter Lindsey is a teacher in North Carolina.
The young Gary Rutz, who “never thought he would be a teacher,” was wrong and the Shenandoah County Public School division is thankful that he was.
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