I’ve had the privilege of serving alongside School Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey for the last seven years. Some pastors and theologians see the number seven as significant. In some ancient Near Eastern cultures, like the Biblical Israelites, the number seven indicated “fullness” or “completeness.” And for you to even consider retirement from this position, then the time must be complete. You have fulfilled your mission with the Newton County Schools System.
It has been an honor to watch you lead at such a high level. It has been humbling to see how effortlessly you display the character of a true organizational leader. You have great integrity. A great family support system. And you’ve built an incredible team here, and together, you have produced incredible results.
You and I have not always agreed on every decision and not always aligned on philosophy, but you always listened and were open to my thoughts and ideas, even the crazy ones. I count you as a close friend and someone I admire greatly. We have led through trying economic times, education disruptions during a global pandemic, and we’ve grieved the tragic loss of faculty, students, and even one of our own board members, our friend and mentor Almond Turner. We’ve been through a lot of highs and lows, calm seas and stormy weather, and you have been a steady captain of this ship and crew.
Contrary to what some believe, you have led a-politically. In other words, you never made decisions based on political leanings, or the noise of media. You always did what you thought was best for the children. Your first thought is always, “what is best for our kids?” And people will never know all the times you personally gave your time, your energy, money out of your own pocket to help kids in our system. You didn’t mind helping the one, even if you couldn’t help everyone. Because you saw each kid individually. No one can ever question whether or not you cared. You care deeply. You have a huge heart for kids and for their future successes. And it has always been obvious to those around you.
Whoever is next for Newton County will have big shoes to fill. And I don’t know if anyone will fill those ruby red slippers, make us think about hedgehogs, or challenge us to remember extremely long acronyms that basically comprise the fruit of the spirit from the book of Galatians. But we won’t be looking for another Samantha Fuhrey, cause there is only one. Whoever comes next will do things differently, say things differently, but, they’ll have to stand on your shoulders and respect the foundations of greatness you’ve established.
Newton County School System is better because you served.
This governance team is better because you served.
Our community is better because you served.
I am a better person because you served.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Trey Bailey is District 1 representative on the Newton County School Board. He also serves as executive pastor of Eastridge Church in Covington.