This week, the Newton County Board of Education announced its top three finalists for the superintendent position and the applications of the three candidates have pages of information stating and showing why they are each qualified to take on the Newton County School System’s top role.
Current NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews will retire June 30, at the end of the school system’s fiscal year.
As Mathews’ retirement draws near, the BOE selected three candidates, Samantha Fuhrey — the deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction for NCSS; Samuel Light, the superintendent of the Illini Bluffs Community Unit School District #327 in Glasford, Ill.; and Noris Price, the deputy superintendent for the Clarke County School District in Athens, to contend for the position.
Board of Education members met in executive session for three days during spring break, April 2-4, to review a list of 34 applicants for the superintendent position and narrowed it down to a top three.
Applications for the three candidates, that were first submitted to the Georgia School Boards Association, and then forwarded to the Newton County BOE for review, have been released by the NCSS.
The documents include résumés, cover letters and listed qualifications for each of the candidates, who are vying for the position of NCSS superintendent.
Fuhrey has served as the deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction for NCSS for the past 11 months, according to her application. In this position, she has been responsible for overseeing a staff of 1,000 teachers and administrators. Of the staff, around 31 employees report directly to Fuhrey. The salary for her current position is $109,000.
Prior to serving in her current role, Fuhrey served as the executive director for secondary education, the director of secondary education, and the director of professional learning for Newton County Schools. She also served as the principal and assistant principal of Indian Creek Middle School.
Prior to her employment with Newton County Schools, she worked for the DeKalb County School System as an assistant principal and an English teacher. According to her employment history, Fuhrey has been in education for more than 20 years, starting out as an English teacher in 1992.
Fuhrey wrote in her educational philosophy statement in her application that quality school and district leaders are essential in successful systems.
“The relationship between the board of education and the superintendent is instrumental to the success of the successful system. In these systems, the superintendent works closely with the board in an effort to carry out its policies and solidify its vision. The board of education and the superintendent must cultivate an unyielding, mutual respectful relationship that embodies trust and [an] overt commitment to the school system’s mission,” Fuhrey wrote.
In describing why she wanted to work with the NCSS as superintendent, Fuhrey said she fully understands the mission of the NCSS and she plans to continue the work that has led to improvement in NCSS students’ academic achievement.
“As a constituent of the community, I know first-hand the significance of the success of the school system and the impact that success has on future opportunities for students as well as the future economic development of the community,” she wrote. “I stand prepared to lead the Newton County School System as we strive to provide our students with a world-class education that prepares them for life beyond high school.”
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 also holds an education specialist’s degree in educational leadership from Georgia College and State University.
Light has served as superintendent of the Illini Bluffs Community Unit School District #327 in Glasford, Ill., since 2008. In his position, Light has the responsibility of overseeing a staff of 117, with eight staff members reporting directly to him. He holds a current salary of $134,259.
Though Light currently serves as superintendent for a student population of about 974 students, he has had a hand serving as a top administrator and educator in larger school districts.
He previously served as the superintendent of Elbert County Public Schools in Elberton, which had a 3,600 students and prior to that, he served as an associate superintendent for Savannah Chatham County Public Schools, which had student population of 34,000.
Before serving as an administrator in Georgia, Light served as a principal in Jacksonville, Fla., at several schools in the Duval County Public School System. He began his education career with Duval County Public Schools in 1986 as a metals instructor at a middle school, showing that he has been in education for more than 25 years.
Light said in his educational philosophy statement on his application that a successful school system focuses on the students first.
“Educating the teachers how to reach every student improves the quality of education delivered. Teachers that utilize differentiated instructional techniques have the tools to reach every student. As teachers base their lessons of factual data received from diagnostic testing, they deliver the best possible lesson for each student. Challenging all students at their level creates noticeable gains at every level. Every student must demonstrate educational progress annually for the system to be considered a success,” Light wrote.
In describing why he chose to apply with Newton County Schools, Light said the school system offers many exciting opportunities for the community, students and employees.
“The school district has room to improve under new leadership, establishing strengths in data driven decision-making, communication and parental involvement. I envision challenging educators within the district to become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each individual student. Focus on the weakness and challenge the strengths to improve the overall district,” he wrote.
Light has a bachelor’s degree in technology leadership from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Jacksonville University. He also has a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
Price is currently the deputy superintendent for the Clarke County School District. She has held this position for eight months, previously serving as the associate superintendent for Clarke County Schools before she was promoted. As deputy superintendent, Price has been responsible for 2,838 employees, with 64 of those reporting directly to her. Her current salary is $130,000.
Prior to working in Athens, Price served as a principal in both the Fulton County School District in Atlanta and the Fairfax County Public Schools in Falls Church, Va. Price began her education career in 1981 as a teacher at a school in New York. She has been in education for more than 30 years.
Price said a successful school system must clearly and effectively communicate its vision, mission and belief statements.
“Employees must believe that education is the key to a successful future and embody this belief on a daily basis. The school system must provide equal access and advocacy in educating all students to be thoughtful, contributing members of society,” Price wrote.
“The superintendent and leaders of the school system must be innovative and forward thinking in developing educational programs and services to meet the needs of students and improve the teaching and learning process.”
She said she applied for the superintendent position with Newton County Schools because she believes she can make a difference in a community that continues to strive and value public education.
“Newton County is already an outstanding school system and I am impressed with the progressive nature of the community and the personable approach to educating students. I believe that my varied and diverse background, dedication to leadership for learning, and my unyielding commitment to make a difference in the lives of all students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members can make a positive and lasting contribution to the school system,” Price wrote.
“I believe I will be able to continue the transformation that has taken place through innovative programming and effective implementation of programs and services.”
Price has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wilmington College and a master’s degree in elementary education from Lehman College of the City University of New York. She also has a leadership certificate from George Mason University and obtained her doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University.