Mattie Lively Elementary School’s assistant principal, Dr. Carolyn Vasilatos, has accepted the role of interim principal of the school for the upcoming year.
The Bulloch County Board of Education approved the appointment Thursday night. Vasilatos will serve while the school system conducts a nationwide search to replace former Mattie Lively Principal Todd Williford, Bulloch County Schools Public Relations Specialist Hayley Greene announced in a news release.
"Mattie Lively students, parents, teachers and staff have been my family for the past six years,” Vasilatos said. “I am excited to serve in this new role.”
Williford, who resigned this summer to accept a position with an educational software vendor, served as a teacher and administrator in the Bulloch County Schools for 21 years. Originally from Portal, Williford began and ended this career at Mattie Lively Elementary, having started there teaching second grade for three years before two years as a third-grade teacher at Julia P. Bryant Elementary School and two years as an assistant principal at Mill Creek Elementary. But his longest tenure, 12 years, was as principal of Sallie Zetterower Elementary before two years as principal at Mattie Lively.
Vasilatos is also a veteran educator. Her 19 years of experience include 16 years with the Bulloch County Schools. Before becoming an administrator, she served 10 years at Julia P. Bryant Elementary as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher.
“We are fortunate to have leaders such as Dr. Vasilatos, who are willing to step up and keep things moving forward,” said Superintendent Charles Wilson. “She will provide the stability that the school needs during this time of transition.”
The school system will be seeking candidates and posting the position over the course of the school year in hope of naming a new principal by June, Greene announced.
“We want to ensure that we have adequate time to attract possible candidates for the position,” Wilson said.
He said he is looking for a principal “who will be a good fit with our performance culture and be a strong, innovative instructional leader” as the Bulloch County Schools transition to a Strategic Waiver School System under a new contract with the Georgia Department of Education.
Previously called the Investing in Educational Excellence flexibility option, this status will provide waivers from state rules on things such as the number of students in a class. In return, the schools will be expected to make substantial progress on student achievement and other goals.
Indicating a challenge for Vasilatos and the future principal, Mattie Lively appears on the Georgia Department of Education’s 2015 Focus Schools List. This means it is among the lowest-performing 10 percent of Title I schools in the state.
The ranking is based on schools’ three-year average of their Achievement Gap scores on the College and Career Ready Performance Index, the state’s accountability tool for schools and districts.
Some of Mattie Lively’s student subgroups, based on ethnicity, disabilities, economic disadvantages or speaking a first language other than English, are not meeting grade-level and state performance targets on state standardized tests.
Vasilatos as well as the future principal will be required to put a plan in place with parent input that details the interventions that will be used to improve student achievement, Greene noted. To help, the school will receive additional resources and support from the district and state for the next three years.
Williford has been meeting with Vasilatos to aid in the transition.
“I look forward to the year ahead,” Vasilatos said.