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School superintendent announces plans to retire
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Newton County School Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley announced his plans to retire effective June 30, 2010. Whatley’s intention was given to the board in the form of a recommendation and it was given this month so there would be plenty of time for the board members to look for potential replacement candidates. "I included and recommended this action now so that the Board of Education can begin a thorough process of defining what it wants as a new superintendent, post the position, interview for the impending vacancy and employ a new superintendent so as to have as smooth as possible a transition on July 1, 2010," Whatley said.

"As we think and plan to address the multiple tasks related to improving both student achievement and the operations of this school district, after over 36 years as an educator, almost 21 of them in the central office of the Newton County Schools and almost four of them as superintendent, it is time for me to move on to other challenges and interest.

"I have dedicated myself over these years to the betterment of our students and employees as we, the board and administration work together to improve public education in Newton County. I thank the board for the opportunity and pleasure to serve the system and work with all of you.

Dr. C.C. Bates, BOE chair, said that Whatley’s compassion and heart would be greatly missed when he retires from the system.

"I have known Dr. Whatley since I started teaching in Newton County in 1997, said Dr. C.C. Bates, Chair of the Newton County Board of Education. "He is extremely dedicated to the school system and has always been an advocate for children. He has led the district with a kind heart and with a genuine interest in our students, parents, and employees. Dr. Whatley has embraced the challenges we have faced in recent years including unprecedented growth, increased federal and state mandates, and decreased funding. He has worked tirelessly. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to work with him and it goes without saying that his compassion will be greatly missed."

Whatley began working in Newton County Schools in 1989. Prior to joining the NCSS he served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Baldwin County July 1987 through June 1989.

He has also served as an associate superintendent for instruction in Pascagoula, Miss., and Vidalia. Before pursuing a career in school administration, Whatley was a mathematics and chemistry teacher in Vicksburg, Miss., and later served as an assistant principal for North Vicksburg High School. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology from Millsaps College in 1967. Whatley earned a master’s in education administration from Mississippi College in 1972 and his educational doctorate in curriculum from the University of Georgia in 1974.

Since joining Newton County School System, Dr. Whatley has made community service a high priority and has held numerous leadership positions in the community, including Director/President of the Newton County Community Partnership for Children and Families; Director/President of the Covington/Newton County YMCA; and Director/President of the Arts Association of Newton County. In addition he is serving on the Library Board, the Board of Health, the Board of Directors of the Newton County Chamber of Commerce, and the Board of the Center for Preservation and Planning. He is a Director of the Georgia Federal Credit Union and has served as president of the Covington Rotary Club.

"It is very rare these days to find someone who dedicates himself to a job with such commitment and loyalty," said board member Cathy Dobbs. "Dr Whatley has brought his heart, soul and mind to his position as superintendent of our schools; he truly wants the best for every child and employee. We wish him the very best in his retirement."