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Rita D. Bishop


Roanoke City Public Schools
40 Douglass Avenue
Roanoke, VA 24015

Phone: (540) 853-2659

E-mail address: rdbishop@rcps.info


Doctor of Education: Educational Policy Planning and Administration, University of Southern California; Los Angeles, California
Master of Arts: Counseling Psychology, University of Santa Clara; Santa Clara, California
Bachelor of Arts: English and Speech, University of Nevada; Reno, Nevada

Professional/business/civic/nonprofit organizations in which you are/have been involved and positions held:

• Foundation for Roanoke Valley Board Member
• Roanoke Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce Board Member
• Roanoke Symphony Orchestra Board Member
• Opera Roanoke Board Member
• United Way of Roanoke Valley Board Member
• American Heart Association Board Member
• American Red Cross Board Member
• Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster Board Member
• Lancaster Symphony Orchestra Board Member
• United Way of Lancaster County Board Member
• YMCA Board Member
• President, Regional Chapter Phi Delta Kappa
• Member, Society for the Study of Education
• Member, USC Education Alumni Association

Who were the important mentors you have had and how did they impact your career?

Robert Griffin, my college debate coach, followed my personal and career lives from the time I was in college until his death a few years ago. His candid, sage observations and welcomed advice guided much of my life. He had an unfaltering belief that education was the “great equalizer” and was the single most important force in making and keeping America a great country. He always told me what I needed to hear not necessarily what I wanted to hear. Every day of his life was a testimony to his belief in the power and talent of students. Toward the end of his life he gave me the greatest compliment of my life – “you have become the educator I always hoped you would be.”

Judge Clifford Weckstein has helped me become what I call a faceted thinker that is constantly shaping new approaches to problems and procedures to give them new dimension and elegance. He is without question the best-read, best-spoken, keenest mind I know – a true scholar. Again, he never tells me what I want to hear but what I need to hear. His devotion to the rule of law and commitment to this community and Virginia is inspirational. I am always humbled that he finds time for me.

What do you consider your biggest personal and/or professional accomplishment and why?

My greatest personal accomplishment is raising a son who has integrity and a great love of family and country. He has become a stellar professional and a wonderful husband and father. It is such a joy to watch his patience and seizing “teachable moments” with his children.

My biggest professional accomplishment is having the opportunity to lead two urban school districts. When I became superintendent in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the district was in extreme financial crisis and instructional disarray – both were resolved before I left. In Roanoke, Virginia, I have been privileged to lead major initiatives that have positioned the district to be a leader in urban education on the national agenda. In both places I was able to assemble teams that were solely committed to meeting the needs of all students in the district. I am proud that we have been able to effectively serve the needs of our students, parents, and employees while building excellent school districts.

What advice would you give to a young person graduating from college this spring?

Treat every employee in the same respectful manner that you treat the CEO of the organization. Find something of worth you love to do and figure out a way to make it your career.

How do you achieve a balance between your professional life and your personal life?

I am married to someone who encourages us to spend time together and who supports every aspect of my personal and professional life. He ensures that there is balance in my life. There are many things that we enjoy doing together.

When you were growing up, what did you want to be?

A teacher, a teacher, a teacher. I always wanted to teach students to love reading as much as I do.

What is your favorite book or movie and why?

To Kill a Mockingbird is both my favorite book and movie. It is so teachable. It portrays a piece of America at both its worst and its best. At the heart of the matter is the amazing compassion and courage of people – some simple and some very well educated. The characters are unforgettable – compelling children with their fresh perspectives, the reclusive “Boo” Radley who would willingly have laid down his life to protect a child, and Atticus Finch who would sacrifice everything to defend a man who would be unfairly judged by a society dealing with social hatred.

What are two things about you that not many people know?

I love antiques mainly because their history speaks to me. Gardening, particularly roses, is my passion.

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