GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) – As our kids get ready to go back to school, the superintendent of Gloucester County Public Schools is ready to welcome students and staff for the first time.

Dr. Tony Vladu tells one of his main goals as superintendent is to build relationships. He says he thinks it’s important to build those relationships between himself and the Gloucester County Public Schools community, as well as between teachers and students. It’s a passion for Vladu, because of his experience immigrating to Gloucester from Romania when he was in middle school.

“I came to this country when I was 12 and a half, and I didn’t speak English, and then the school staff embraced me. Teachers embraced me, and I actually owe everything to them. So, that’s what I’m looking at, the relationship the staff are building with students and make sure every child has someone that’s a champion about them,” Vladu says.

Vladu says education is his passion thanks to the teachers in his life.

“Education is so powerful. Those teachers really helped me, set me up, so I could join the military, earn a high school diploma, and then, when I got out of the military, I wanted to do something that was meaningful to me, and education was it.”

Vladu is retired Army. Another focus of his this school year is on the multi-million-dollar renovation of Gloucester High School. Quite a bit of construction greets you at the high school right now. Vladu says it is a $65 million project to update everything in the school that was built in the 70s.

“It’s going to be done in stages, but we hope over the next 10-12 months that most of the work is going to be completed. However, it is going to be ready for school. We know that there may be some changes in the workflow, but it will be ready for students to come back to school.

In addition to the renovation project, Vladu says safety is always top of mind. He says there is a school resource officer in every school in Gloucester County, as well as security vestibules.