“We can afford what we need to do in Loudoun County,” Hatrick said. “We are not a high-tax county. We are not a high-tax state. Loudoun has the resources.”
Hatrick, 68, graduated from Loudoun County High School in 1963, when the still-rural district had three high schools — one for black students and two for whites. He had plans to go to graduate school and become a professor after the University of Richmond, but he took a job teaching English at his high school alma mater in 1967.
“It didn’t take me six week to realize this is really what I want to do,” Hatrick said.
It was there that he met his future wife and embarked on what would become his life’s work. By the time he turned 30, he was a principal at the school. In 1978, he moved to the central office to become the director of special education, then took over as superintendent in 1991.
Hatrick, who has an annual salary of $249,754, has stood apart from some of his local peers’ spotlight-grabbing style, including former Montgomery schools superintendent Jerry Weast. Hatrick, some veteran employees said, is a personable leader who values the community’s close-knit roots. “As the system has grown, he is still good at keeping it as close to a family as he can,” said Kevin Terry, a guidance counselor at Dominion High School.
Hatrick, a towering presence at 6-foot-5, is known for his steady vision and behind-the-scenes attention to detail.
Employees say his philosophy is characterized by what they call “the shade trick.”
“When he visits schools, he likes to see that all the shades are at the same level,” Byard said. “He knows that if you pay attention to small details . . . it shows that someone cares.”
T. Rees Shapiro contributed to this report.