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Board Business Briefs: New Superintendent Hired

Board Business Briefs: New Superintendent Hired

The Cherokee County School Board at its regular meeting tonight, Feb. 15, 2024, voted to officially hire Dr. Mary Elizabeth Davis as the county’s next Superintendent of Schools.

Dr. Davis currently serves as Superintendent of Schools for Henry County.  You can learn more about her extensive experience as an educator and leader online here.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower last fall announced he planned to retire this spring after nearly 40 years in education, including eight years in his current role.        

Dr. Davis, who attended the meeting, asked that this statement be shared with the community:

Tonight, I am grateful to the Cherokee County Board of Education for their trust and for this opportunity to serve as the next Superintendent of Schools.  My family and I are honored and excited to join Cherokee County and call this beloved community home.  

My commitment to education extends beyond a career choice — it is a profound dedication to creating environments where students thrive, educators are empowered, leaders excel, support staff make significant impacts, and families confidently invest their trust.  This dedication is mirrored in my personal life, supported by my family — my husband PJ of 22 years, and our children, aged 10 and 7 — who share in the excitement of serving the Cherokee County School District community.

Rooted in a family that values public service, military service, and education, my approach to leadership is influenced by a legacy of community engagement and a belief in the transformative power of education.  With siblings who have dedicated their lives to serving our country and contributing to our communities, I am inspired to lead with a commitment to excellence, optimism, and community engagement.

As we look forward, I am eager to begin my tenure, with the official start date to be announced soon.  I extend my gratitude to Dr. Hightower for his leadership and guidance during this transition.  His remarkable legacy is a testament to the power of visionary leadership, and together with the Board and community, our focus will remain steadfast on the success of our students.  I share his focus on ensuring every student masters core academic learning, critical thinking skills and career readiness education to fully prepare them for future success. 

This season of Listening, Learning, and Leaning-in to Lead is one I am very much looking forward to living here in CCSD, with all of you as we embark on this exciting journey together, enhancing the educational landscape of Cherokee County for current and future generations.

As part of the approval of the monthly personnel report, the school board accepted the retirement at the end of the school year of Dr. Keith Bryant, CCSD’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, and three principals: Dr. Richard “Richie” Carnes, principal of Creekland MS; Kim Hagood, principal of Carmel ES; and Penny Valle, principal of Oak Grove ES STEAM Academy.

“Congratulations and thank you to all four of these leaders for the incredible service you have given to our students and our community,” Dr. Hightower said.  “We’re grateful for all you have done as educators and leaders to improve teaching and learning.  You have made a positive difference in the lives of countless students.” 

The school board also heard very positive financial news both in regard to the successful issuance of bonds for new school construction, as well as improvements in its credit rating.  CCSD’s credit rating from Moody’s has been upgraded from AA2 to AA1 Stable Outlook, which is one step below the perfect rating of AAA.

The credit rating upgrade, the first in six years, is attributed to the school district’s strong governance team, improvements in budget management, stable student enrollment and the community’s overall affluence.

An improved credit rating generally leads to lower interest rates and other costs for associated with borrowing funds, not only this time around, but for years to come.  

The School Board also:

•    Recognized CCSD’s Special Olympics Winter Games Gold Medalists.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized CCSD Educators Hall of Fame Class of 2024 Inductees.  Learn more here;
•    Recognized Woodstock High School junior Kate Bean, selected for All-State Art.  Learn more here;
•    Approved a resolution recognizing February 17, 2024 as PTA Day in the Cherokee County School District; 
•    Approved the renewal of the Partnership Agreement with History Cherokee;
•    Approved monthly financial reports; 
•    Approved out of state staff travel;
•    Approved out of state and overnight student field trips;
•    Approved the monthly update on capital outlay projects; and,
•    Approved a special lease agreement.