John Busher
Photo by Aila Boyd

After coming out of retirement back in 2015 to serve as interim superintendent, before later being named superintendent, John Busher announced last Thursday that he will be retiring from Botetourt County Public Schools for the second time.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Busher said of the time he’s spent with the division since coming out of retirement in 2015.

In total, Busher has spent 11 years working for the school division. In 2013, at the time of his first retirement, Busher was serving as assistant superintendent. Busher’s last day will be on June 30.

Busher, a New York native, has spent more than 40 years in education. In addition to working as an assistant superintendent and superintendent, he was a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and worked for the Virginia Department of Education.

Busher joined the Virginia Department of Education around the time that Standards of Learning (SOLs) were being rolled out. During his time with the department, he assisted schools with accreditation.

When he first joined Botetourt County Public Schools, he served as an accreditation specialist. He eventually moved his way up to become the assistant superintendent for instruction, the position that he held at the time of his first retirement.

“I have a great passion for this division,” Busher said, adding that he wouldn’t have come out of retirement for just any school division. “This school division is extra special… The reason for it is the culture of the community.”

School Board member Michelle Crook stated, “John Busher has solidified his legacy in our school division’s history. He will forever be recalled as the kind superintendent who cared deeply about our students, teachers, and staff. He boosted morale following the recession. And most importantly, Botetourt County Public Schools thrived academically in the region during his tenure.”

“Mr. Busher views Botetourt County Public Schools as a community, not just a workplace,” said board member Anna Weddle. “He has devoted the past four years to tirelessly improving our system, embodying his famous method, ‘The Botetourt Way.’”

“John was the perfect person for what we needed at that time. He has restored a strong sense of community within our school system and for us within our larger Botetourt community. He has energized our staff, which has resulted in incredible accomplishments for our system. He created a much more productive environment and has strengthened our relationships with our county partners. Maybe most importantly, he has fulfilled his commitment to us. He’s done what he told us he would do,” Scott Swortzel, vice chairman of the School Board, said.

“John Busher’s exemplary service to Botetourt County will be felt far beyond his years of tenure. He has been a promoter and innovator for the schools and his leadership will be felt for many years to come,” Michael Beahm, chairman of the School Board, said. “The employees of the system know and appreciate his passion for education and doing things ‘the Botetourt way.’ More importantly, while they may be unaware, the students will reap the benefits of his leadership for many years.”

Although Busher doesn’t have any specific ideas as to what he plans to do after he retires, he said that he will be spending more time with his wife, children, and parents. Following his first retirement in 2013, he went back to work for the Department of Education. Considering the possibility of doing the same, Busher said that he’s open to it.

The School Board secured the services of the Virginia School Board Association for the search process.

The School Board held a work session last Friday to discuss how it plans to fill Busher’s position.

Samantha Bosserman, director of communications and board development for the Virginia School Board Association, attended the meeting and discussed what the superintendent search process will be like.

“You’re in a good place,” Bosserman said in regard to the length of time that the School Board has to fill Busher’s position.

The School Board has invited the public to complete a survey, which will be available until February 15, in regards to what attributes should be important as the search process proceeds. The survey can be found on the Botetourt County Public Schools website. Paper copies of the survey are also available and can be picked up at any of the schools throughout the county. The deadline for turning in the paper surveys is February 13.

“We want to make sure we include and involve as many stakeholders as possible in this process,” Beahm said. “This is the No. 1 priority for the Botetourt County School Board and the board will work diligently to find the next leader of the school division.”

The School Board will use the week of February 18 to review the surveys. A public meeting will be held on February 21 at 8 a.m., which will allow the School Board to vote on the required and preferred qualifications that will be included in the job posting for the position.

Applicants will be able to apply for the job from February 25 to March 25.

A closed session meeting will be held on April 9 at 10 a.m., which will allow the School Board to review and discuss the applications received.

The School Board will conduct interviews in April and May. A final announcement as to who has been hired to fill the position will be made sometime in May or June.

When asked how many applications the School Board can expect to receive, Bosserman said that out of the 14 superintendent searches that she facilitated last year, the most amount of applications a division received was 48. The school division that received the least amount of applications received 22.

“We’ve got to continue the very strong academic reputation that we have here in Botetourt County,” Crook said. “We want to make sure we remain strong and competitive. The new superintendent will have to finish leading the new Colonial Elementary project.”