Superintendent Doug Schuch believes there is an “amazing potential of work” that can be done in Regional School District 13.
Before starting his new role with RSD13 over a month ago, Schuch served as superintendent of Bedford County Public Schools in Virginia, a position he held since 2009.
Schuch’s educational philosophy is based on a learner-centered approach. Unlike the traditional model of teaching that relies on lectures as the primary means of instruction, the learner-centered education favors different modalities to facilitate learning.
In a learner-centered education, each student is believed to have unbounded potential and an innate desire to learn. Children are encouraged to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and find a model of education that suits them best.
“Successful learning might look different for each individual learner,” said Schuch. “You might learn best from listening to lectures, somebody else might learn better from doing hands-on experiments. Learners should have some input as to what their learning process looks like.”
Schuch recognizes that each student is unique and might study at a different pace. Learning, he believes, should be competency-based and measured by a student's ability to demonstrate knowledge of academic content, rather than the number of hours spent in a classroom.
“If you can learn algebra faster than I can but we both learn it eventually, why do we call you an ‘A’ student and call me a ‘C’ or ‘D’ student?” said Schuch. “The time should be variable and the constant should be how much we learn.”
Schuch believes the learning process is not constrained by the classroom walls but happens in a myriad of settings and formats. Schools should give students credit for “learning experiences that happen outside of the traditional school day,” Schuch said.
Having worked in public education for 26 years, Schuch believes a school district should constantly analyze its educational approach and adapt it to changing circumstances.
“That's a really hard thing to do in public education because we’re used to setting a plan, following it for the whole year, and then making changes the next year,” he said. “But I think that COVID-19 has taught us that if something isn’t working, we can’t be afraid to make changes right now. It’s all about what’s best for our young learners.”
Before heading RSD13, Schuch was an active member of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, serving as the group’s president during the 2019-2020 school year, as well as an executive coach for new superintendents. Additionally, he has served as an Adjunct Professor at Longwood University and the University of Mary Washington.
In 2018, Schuch was named Virginia’s Region 5 Superintendent of the Year.
Prior to starting his career as an educator, Schuch served in the Navy and is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He attended Duke University, earning a degree in engineering, then received a master's degree in education and a doctoral degree in philosophy from George Mason University.