Former Teacher Rezoning Career Path

Posted: August 26, 2014

Staff Writer

Patrick Wilcox, 24, of Staunton, recently found a spot as a Bridgewater zoning administrator. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)

Just two years removed from college, Patrick Wilcox came to a career climax.

The Michigan native spent four years studying elementary education at Lee University, a private institution 30 minutes outside of Chattanooga in southeastern Tennessee. After graduating in 2012, Wilcox spent the following two years as a fifth grade teacher at North River Elementary School in Mount Solon.

He soon realized, however, that teaching 11 year olds the fundamentals of fractions and the order of operations wasn’t in the cards for the next 30 years.

“It took me two years to realize, as far as long term plans, [teaching] didn’t fit my personality,” said Wilcox, a Staunton resident. “I thought I would keep teaching until I liked it or until it clicked, because I have a perfectionist’s mindset, but I soon realized that it wasn’t my mountain to climb.”

Upon the conclusion of the 2013-14 school year, Wilcox left his position at North River and began the search for a new career.

As June drew to an end, though, Wilcox’s path remained unclear.

After hours of deliberation with his wife, Betsy Joy, and close friends, Wilcox decided to seek a job that fit his strengths as a professional, he says — the backbone of which is public communication.

“I didn’t want to settle for a job that didn’t fit my skills,” explained Wilcox, who says he refused to accept a job offer for the sake of having one.

“People have told me in the past to take the first job I’m offered, but I wanted a good fit,” he explained.

After learning of an opening for a zoning administrator with the town of Bridgewater from Brenda Holton, wife of town superintendent Bob Holton, a speech and language pathology instructor at North River, Wilcox applied for the position.

Days later, Bob Holton contacted Wilcox.

After a series of interviews with town officials, followed by one with Holton himself, Wilcox says he knew the job was an ideal fit.

Luckily, Bob Holton agreed and offered the 24-year-old the position.

“I hired him for several reasons but the most obvious are that he’s smart and has good people skills,” explained Bob Holton.  “I’ve found that most of those hired for regulatory positions like zoning are typically smart, but are sometimes lacking in people skills. …  If he can keep students, parents and administrators happy, he will likely be able to work with the good citizens of Bridgewater on zoning and planning issues.”

Wilcox’s main duties include processing permits and inspecting new zoning projects to ensure each complies with town ordinances.

Additionally, Wilcox will assist in administrative duties, which often includes answering phone calls or taking walk-in requests from residents.

As of late, he has weighed aspects of local farmers markets though research, in an effort to enhance Bridgewater’s own market, set to open next spring. He also helped spearhead the town Facebook page, which allows officials to promote events and interact with locals via social media.

Each of these duties requires constant public interaction, which is exactly what Wilcox was looking for in a job, he says.

“I love the earnestness of Bridgewater residents,” remarked Wilcox. “And I have enough interaction with them, and enough variety with this job, to the point where I don’t get bored with it.”

‘Future Of Bridgewater’
Bob Holton says Wilcox, along with other young employees of the town, serves as a key component in “the future of Bridgewater,” the “next generation of leaders,” as he calls them.

“It’s obvious that most of those in leadership position with Bridgewater are in their 50s and 60s,” said Holton, noting that the retirement of these individuals may leave a vacuum in the local government.

“I’m trying to bring in some young, talented employees that will make this inevitable transition an easier one,” Bob Holton added.

Wilcox says he appreciates the recognition while also understanding the commitment and responsibility that comes with such a role.

“The people who have led this town for many years have done a great job and whoever fills those shoes has a big task ahead of them,” he concluded.

Contact Matt Gonzales at (540) 574-6265 or

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