Samantha Fuhrey, 43, has worked with the Newton County School System for almost 13 years and said she wants to be the next superintendent for the school system because she has a passion for children, and wants to continue leading the school system on a path of success.
Fuhrey, who is the deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction for NCSS and is one of the top three finalist for the NCSS superintendent position, said she has a lot to offer to the community and has a vested interest in the school system.
She said she would like to continue the gains that have taken place by current NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews.
“I am concerned that if we change directions, our teachers and our staff would have to sort of stop where we are and revisit,” Fuhrey said. “I love the teachers, the principals, the central office staff and most importantly the kids. I love to see at the board meetings when the kids come up and get their awards. It almost validates everything that I have done along the way.
“I just feel like I can lead the system down the road and get us from where we are and build upon the momentum that we have established under the leadership of Dr. Mathews. So, I’m really excited about the opportunity,” she said.
Fuhrey has served as the executive director for secondary education, the director of secondary education, and the director of professional learning for Newton County Schools. She was also a principal and assistant principal at Indian Creek Middle School between 2001 and 2008. She worked for the DeKalb County School System as an assistant principal and began her education career an English teacher in 1992.
Fuhrey said her experience both in the classroom and in the central office of the NCSS is what makes her qualified to take on the role of superintendent of the school system.
“I was a principal in this school system, I was a director of professional learning, I have been the director of secondary schools and executive director now in this particular role,” she said.
“I have seen the school system from a variety of positions and I was a teacher before that and I continue to be a teacher in all that I do. I work with teachers very closely in an effort to ensure that they have everything that they need in their classrooms. I work with the principals and the assistant principals very closely. I work with the central office staff very closely.”
“Maybe five years ago, I would need more experience, but I’ve been at the central office for six years…I believe I have a well-rounded background that will help us get down the road. I know the strategic plan very well; I know the budgeting very well; I know the federal budgets; I know the general budgets, because I build them myself.”
In building budgets for the curriculum and instruction department and federal budgets at the school system, Fuhrey said she is more than able to deal with the school systems budget. She said she would continue to make sure that every penny is budgeted correctly.
“Eighty-five percent of our budget is personnel — people. So you have to look very carefully at every allocation provided to the schools to ensure that everyone is properly allocated,” she said. “I’ve spent some time in the last month or so working with the operations side…you start looking for places where there’s opportunity. [I] would follow the same sort of plan that we used in the past, which was led by Dr. Mathews.”
Fuhrey added that she would also get input from the community about the school systems budget, gathering the community’s input and then with the executive leadership team, make decisions about changes that needed to be made, such as budget cuts.
Fuhrey has a bachelor’s degree in secondary English from Marywood and a master’s degree in educational leadership from State University of West Georgia.
She holds an education specialist’s degree in educational leadership from Georgia College and State University.
Though she does not have a doctorate degree, she said that doesn’t limit her from being a qualified candidate for the superintendent position.
“Having a doctorate does not make you an expert — it makes you have a doctorate. I’m a reader, so I study all of the education literature out there,” Fuhrey said. “There are many people who are very successful at their jobs who do not have doctorates. I’m just at that point where I’m satisfied.”
“I know the intricacies of the school system in and out and upside down,” she said. “I’m always studying for ways to get better and not having a doctorate does not prevent me for doing that.”
When it comes to being transparent with the community, Fuhrey explained that she would continue to update the community and staff about the school system. She also said she would like to have community forum-type meetings in different districts of the county, where parents could make suggestions and have discussions about their child’s school and the school system.
“I would like to have a dialogue with our parents, where they can see what the school system is working on and understand how that applies to them and then in those meetings, have an opportunity to communicate and say what they would like to see. It would be an ongoing dialogue that would include multiple people from our schools,” she said.
“I think our community, if they understand where we are going and what we are working on, they have a lot to contribute and offer to the discussion. And I want to create a forum for that to be able to happen.”
Fuhrey said if named superintendent, she would like to serve well pass her retirement, which she said she would be eligible for in nine years.
“I have never been a career ladder climber. I am in it and if you knew me well, you would know my heart. My heart is in it for children and what I do is for children and for the children of this community. I don’t intend to go anywhere, she said.
“I don’t have any other aspirations. I don’t want to work at the state department. I’m not interested in that sort of position. I think I can affect a change in our community that makes a difference for me and my family. I have no desire to go anyplace else.”
Fuhrey has served as the Leadership Preparation Performance Coach, presenter at the International Reading Conference; a volunteer for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; and volunteer for the Covington Relay for Life.
Fuhrey, her husband Bill and 8-year-old daughter Eva, who attends school in the NCSS, live in Oxford. Her family owns the restaurant Double Dips, in Oxford, where she enjoys meeting people from the community.