The Bulloch County Board of Education approved Dr. Mary A. Felton of Rockdale County Public Schools as the school system's new assistant superintendent of teaching and learning during its work session meeting on Thursday night.
Felton will assume the role previously held by Dr. Fran Stephens, who resigned Oct. 18 to become an assistant principal at Richmond Hill High School. Felton will start her new position on Feb. 19.
"Dr. Felton's experience, knowledge and personality are a great fit for our school system and the strategic initiatives that we are undertaking in order to benefit public education in Bulloch County," Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson said. "We are looking forward to her joining us, and she'll be a great asset to our team."
On Friday, Felton said she was "humbled" to be hired by Bulloch County Schools.
"I am very excited to join Superintendent Wilson's team, a wonderfully professional team of educators that make up Bulloch County's district leadership," she said. "I am looking forward to working with parents, teachers and all stakeholders. Under Superintendent Wilson's leadership, we will continue to embrace innovative change to meet the needs of ‘all' students as we prepare them to be ‘responsible citizens for colleges and careers.'"
Currently serving as an assistant principal at Sims Elementary School in Conyers, and previously as Rockdale County Public Schools' district literacy coach, Felton was one of four finalists from an applicant pool of 88 educators.
In her new role with Bulloch County Schools, Felton will oversee the following: curriculum and instruction for grades prekindergarten through 12; gifted education programs; Career, Technical and Agricultural Education programs; preschool disabilities program and services; school nurses; student services; the Transitions Learning Center, which is the district's alternative education program; the Communities and Schools program; and all special education services.
Felton will lead a team composed of seven program-area directors and more than 30 employees. The position reports directly to the superintendent and is one of three assistant superintendent positions in the school system, along with the assistant superintendent of human resources and the assistant superintendent of organizational effectiveness.
Felton has served as an assistant principal for 10 months after serving the previous four years as Rockdale County district literacy coach and was seeking a promotion to the assistant superintendent level. She previously served with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools as a literacy coach and teacher for 21 years. While in Florida, Felton also served as an adjunct professor for Barry University.
She is a National Board Certified Teacher and a former Teacher of the Year (Howard Drive Elementary in Palmetto Bay, Fla.) and Reading Teacher of the Year (Dade Reading Council in Miami). She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from South Carolina State University, and she received her master's and specialist's degrees from Barry University in elementary education and reading. She received her doctorate degree in educational leadership in 2008 from Nova Southeastern University.
A six-member committee made up of local and area secondary and postsecondary educators and administrators helped in the selection process. Of the 88 initial applicants, 67 met all the criteria for the position. After further review of the qualified applicants' documentation, the committee narrowed the list to eight applicants to interview. These interviews took place at the Bulloch County school system's central office during November and December.
Committee members included the following: Dr. Kevin Judy, the school system's assistant superintendent of human resources; Monica Lanier, the assistant superintendent of organizational effectiveness; Dr. Elazer Barnette, Savannah State University's associate vice president of academic affairs/planning dean for teacher education; Dr. Tom Koballa, the dean of the College of Education at Georgia Southern University; Linda Evans, a Statesboro High School counselor; and Marlin Baker, the Brooklet Elementary School principal.
The committee recommended four finalists to Superintendent Wilson, who interviewed them and allowed employees within the Teaching and Learning Department to talk with them as well. Wilson recommended Felton to the board during a lengthy executive session Thursday night.
Stephens, now an assistant principal at Richmond Hill High, served Bulloch County Schools for 22 years. She was an English language arts teacher for 13 years at Southeast Bulloch High School. She then spent two years as the school system's curriculum director and eight years as assistant superintendent.
The Board of Education also appointed her to serve as interim superintendent May 30, 2012, through July 19, 2012, during its seven-week search for a new superintendent. Stephens relocated to be closer to family in the Brunswick area.