COVINGTON, Ga. — After 10 years at the helm of Newton County Schools as its superintendent, Samantha Fuhrey announced her retirement from her position, effective June 30, 2023.
The announcement came toward the end of Tuesday night’s school board work session meeting.
“After much careful thought and consideration and reflection, I have decided to retire from KL-12 public education as of June 30, 2023,” Fuhrey said in her remarks during the work session meeting. “One of the most fulfilling endeavors of my life has been to serve as the superintendent of the Newton County Schools system for the last 10 years.
“It’s an emotional time because this is 31 years of my life that I’ve dedicated to the children of Georgia, and while I’m excited about the future, I’m also kind of sad that I’m leaving our school system and the team that we have here that I work with every day.”
Fuhrey then proceeded to read from a prepared statement, choking back tears and emotions along the way. She thanked the NCSS board for being “problem solvers,” and stated that she lauded the board for working hard to improve and raise the standard of the education system’s performance.
She enjoyed a well-decorated tenure as NCSS Superintendent, as she was named a finalist for Superintendent of the Year in Georgia from 2017 through 2019 before winning it in 2020 while also being selected as one of four finalists for the national award.
In 2023, Superintendent Fuhrey received the Outstanding Citizen Award presented by State Representative Sharon Henderson. She was also recognized by Georgia College and State University as the 2021 Alumnus of the Year for the College of Education and was recently recognized by Congressman Hank Johnson with the Fourth Congressional District of Georgia Trailblazer Award.
Fuhrey was the recipient of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders 2021 Vision Award, and was recognized by the University of Georgia’s Mary Frances Early College of Education when she was awarded the Johnnye V. Cox Award in June, 2020. Additionally, she was awarded the Georgia Schools Superintendent Association's President’s Award in 2016.
Fuhrey began her time in education as a teacher, and has been a resident of Newton County for 31 years. The people who work in the school system put their kids in the school system. She didn’t immediately state her post-retirement plans, but school board member Abigail Coggin hinted that Fuhrey may still be close by.
“This isn’t a sad occasion,” Coggin said. “It’s a time to celebrate. You’re not moving, you’re still going to be here. We’ll still have her here for guidance and support.”
District rep. Trey Bailey got choked up while talking about the legacy he believes Fuhrey is going to leave behind. But he began his remarks with a quip that playfully communicated the bittersweet emotions he had upon the announcement.
“So polished and professional,” Bailey remarked about Fuhrey’s statement. “But I don’t have that tonight because I’m mad at you (for leaving). It’s been an honor to watch you lead at a high level. You’ve been a steady captain of this crew. You never made decisions on political leanings or the noise of the media. You did what’s best for our children, even taking money out of your own pocket to help our kids in our system.”
Board chair Shakila Henderson-Baker noted how abnormal Fuhrey’s tenure has been.
“I’m so grateful to have had an opportunity to work with a superintendent like you,” Henderson-Baker said. “The life cycle of a superintendent, a lot of people don’t know, is three years. To have someone vested in your school district for 10 years is not normal at all. To have someone who lives in the community they work in is not the norm at all. And to have someone who’s kids attend the schools in the district they serve, believe it or not, is not normal at all.”
Baker later discussed the process in which the Georgia School Board Association would go about searching for Fuhrey’s successor. But Bailey, perhaps spoke for the sentiment of the collective board, when he said how difficult it would be to fill that position.
“Those kids lives have been changed forever,” Bailey said. “Whoever is next for Newton County will have big shoes to fill. We won’t be looking for another Samantha Fuhrey, because there’s only one.”
This story will update as we receive more information.