Dr. Lawrence Varner Recognized

Dr. Lawrence Varner Recognized for Twenty-Five Years of Service to the Prince Edward County School Board
Posted on 11/10/2020
Dr. Lawrence Varner Recognized for Twenty-Five Years of Service to the Prince Edward County School Board

The Prince Edward County Schools (PECPS)  School Board recognized Dr. Lawrence Varner for twenty-five years of service at the November 4th School Board meeting. Dr. Varner has served on the PECPS School Board since 1995.

Twenty-five years is a long time for a citizen to serve on a board. We asked Dr. Varner “why he serves”, and he responded:

It's something that I have always wanted to do and continue to enjoy. I am a strong believer in public education [and] I am the  product of public education from our neighboring county of Cumberland. My wife, Linda went to Charlotte County Public Schools.  When my family moved to Prince Edward in 1985, we remained committed to public education and did not consider any options other than Prince Edward County Public Schools.  I wanted to do anything I could to support and improve the Prince Edward School System.  I felt I brought to the Board some additional perspectives.  I grew up in the area and was a family physician with four children.  I was excited and humbled when I was first appointed in 1995 and it has been an honor being allowed to continue to serve.

Dr. Varner believes that we have a very good school system.  He reminds us that there is definitely more to the PECPS story than just Standards of Learning (SOL) scores.  He feels that PECPS graduates do extremely well and opportunities for our students are almost endless.  He has boundless  confidence in the division because he knows from first hand experience, having raised four children in Prince Edward.  All of his children completed their 13 years of education in PECPS. All of his children were well-prepared and have become independent, successful, contributing members of society; and, he is extremely proud of them.  As a board member/parent, it was most certainly a highlight seeing each of them walk across the graduation stage.  For a number of years he and his wife had a child at each of the three schools.  Now, the process continues with three of their grandchildren currently enrolled in PECPS.

Dr. Varner continues to be honored to serve Prince Edward county students as a board member.  He strongly believes in transparency as it relates to board relations, duties, and the support of our students.  During his twenty-five years as a board member, he has served as the unofficial parliamentarian.  He ensures that meeting protocols are maintained in both open and closed sessions and that the board comprehensively reviews all policies as the governing body for the school division.  He is particularly committed to policies which allow the PECPS families to advocate for their children and openly share their concerns with the school board.  In addition he stated, “One of the most important functions of being a school board member is hiring the superintendent.” Appointed during the Dr. James A. Anderson, Jr. administration, Dr. Varner has been involved in four superintendent searches and has felt fortunate to have had the caliber of applicants and final candidates that have been committed to PECPS.

Further, throughout his tenure, Dr. Varner has been involved in several capital projects, including the construction of an additional wing on the middle school, and the expansion of the career tech building.  Although both projects were important to the growing PECPS campus, he is most proud of the five million dollar project that included the new high school library and additional high school renovations in the 1990s.

Finally, Dr. Varner stresses the importance of the interactions available to PECPS with Southside Virginia Community College, Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College.  He also boasts about our strong, dedicated teachers and administrators, our outstanding Career Tech opportunities, and a Board of Supervisors that understands the importance of public education and funds us well above the required state minimum.   "We all do our bit and make it a cooperative effort, that's what makes our board effective. Fortunately, our board gets along very well together.  Of course, we do not always agree on everything; however, once a decision is made, we all stand behind that decision as a board decision.”  said Dr. Varner.

Looking toward the future, we asked Dr. Varner, “What advice would you give to a new school board member?”   In his usual calm, thoughtful, and unassuming demeanor, he said:

Attend and be prepared for meetings; listen with an open-mind; do not form an opinion until you have heard both sides of an issue; do not try to micromanage; avoid having your own agenda; maintain full respect for teachers, administrators and other board members;  maintain confidentiality; and, support our superintendent.

“Dr. Varner has served this community with integrity and pride. He is a dedicated board member who is passionate about the Prince Edward County School district.  His respect and admiration for the division’s teachers, staff and administration as well as his commitment to always do what is best for children is admirable. We would all like to thank him for his continued service and look forward to many additional years.” Beulah Womack, board chair, stated.