Longtime Atlanta-area principal and former Social Circle educator Todd McGhee is returning to Social Circle City Schools as its new superintendent.
The Social Circle Board of Education chose McGhee last week to man the school system's top spot and replace longtime Superintendent Bettye Ray, who is retiring June 30. He received a three-year contract with an annual salary of $138,500.
McGhee, 47, most recently served as the principal of Elbert County Comprehensive High School. He was previously Social Circle Middle School principal for two years, and has 25 years of experience in education.
"Well, I loved my time in Social Circle, it was one of the most enjoyable places that I've worked," McGhee said Thursday, when asked why he applied. "It's just got great students, a great community, great parental support and a great staff, an outstanding staff."
Chairman Tim Lemonds said the board chose McGhee because of his drive and passion for education, his previous experience working in Social Circle and his confidence and professionalism.
"Everywhere he has been as a principal he's changed things, including here at the middle school. He got them going in the right direction," Lemonds said Thursday. "We feel if he can do it as a principal he can do it as superintendent. A superintendent has to start somewhere."
Lemonds said he and the board hope McGhee will continue Ray's efforts of raising test scores and graduation rates but will also focus on building back up sports and vocational programs, which have been hurt by state funding cuts.
McGhee will start July 1, but he is looking forward to working with Ray as he transitions into the position, which will be his first superintendent position.
"I'm just very excited, very blessed. I know I have some big shoes to fill. Dr. Ray has been superintendent for a long time, and I hope to be able to spend some time with her during the month of June and garner as much wisdom from her as I can," McGhee said.
McGhee has been a principal at some level for the past 12 years, including one year in Elbert County, four years at Jackson County High School in Butts County, two years at Social Circle Middle School, one year at North Oconee High School and four years at Spalding High School. McGhee was the first principal to serve North Oconee and Spalding when they initially opened.
He also served as assistant principal at Creekland Middle School and was a special education teacher and football, softball and wrestling coach at Rockdale County High School for eight years.
McGhee received his bachelor's degree in special education, master's degree in health and physical education, with an emphasis in adaptive education, and doctorate in educational leadership all from the University of Georgia. He also has an education specialist degree in educational leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi.
"I think everything I've done up to this point has prepared me for this type of position. With earning the degrees and my years of experience as a building level principal, the natural next step is to move into superintendency, where you can have a wider effect on the whole school system," McGhee said. "Social Circle is a wonderful place to be able to do that. It's a nice size system and, again, I'm at least somewhat familiar with the system and the town and some of the key players. It seemed like a really natural fit."
McGhee said his initial goal is to get to know everyone at the school and in the community.
"I want to get to know the community, parents, civic organizations and get imbedded in the community," McGhee said. "Then, of course, the plan is to continue to move the school system forward academically. As we go to the common core curriculum that Georgia has adopted, we have a lot of work to go in implementing and rolling out that curriculum."
Social Circle has around 1,700 students and will soon have four school campuses, Lemonds said, including a combined primary and elementary school, middle school, high school and alternative and continuing adult education facility.
The school system's budget for next fiscal year is expected to be $13.8 million.
McGhee and his wife, Freda, have three children, Chelsea, 19, Rachel, 18, and Maggie Beth, 10. Freda is a special education teacher in Jackson County. McGhee said he plans to move to the community as soon as possible, but the next year will be a transition year for the family.