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Newton High principal announced
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 Newton High School has a new principal. The Board of Education announced Tuesday that Roderick Sams will replace outgoing principal Joe Gheesling for the 2008-2009 school year.

 Sams comes from Burke County, where he is currently the principal at Blakeney Elementary School.

 Before his appointment to principal at Blakeney, Sams served the same role at Sardis-Girard Elementary School from 2001 to 2006, giving him eight years of experience as a head administrator.

  "I saw Covington and Newton County as a tremendous opportunity for my family," Sams said in a press release. "From what I observed and what I've already been told by members of the community, it is a wonderful place to live and the type of place my family can grow and prosper."

 Sams' path to NHS started in 1993 when he was a paraprofessional at Blakeney while attending Georgia Southern University.

 The school hired Sams as a fifth grade teacher upon his graduation with a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education.

 Along with his time as an administrator in elementary schools, Sams has four years of high school experience as an assistant principal at Burke County High School.

 Sams continued his education at both Georgia Southern and Augusta State University, receiving his doctor of education administration in 2007.

 The board's decision comes after a month-long interview process that included NHS assistant principals Victor Lee and Carl Skinner among the qualified candidates.

 But the decision to go outside the school district echoes statements recently appointed Superintendent of Human Resources Dennis Carpenter made in an interview with The News last month that the county is broadening its efforts to find quality teachers and administrators.

 According to Carpenter, the county was expected to visit states such as Michigan and Ohio in search of viable candidates.

 Sams' selection marks the first major hire under Carpenter's direction and Superintendent Steven Whatley said the BOE is excited to land such a qualified administrator.

 "We are pleased to have as principal of Newton High, a person of Dr. Sams' caliber," he said in a press release. "His current superintendent best describes him as a hard worker, a deep thinker, but a man with a caring spirit."

 Gheesling leaves for North Hall High School in Hall County after six years at Newton High, serving the last three as principal.