Fuhrey ea­ger to move NCSS for­ward

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­news.com

Sa­man­tha Fuhrey has only been in of­fice for a week, but the Ox­ford res­i­dent has plans to go “the ex­tra mile” for her com­mu­nity as the new New­ton County School Sys­tem su­per­in­ten­dent.

Fuhrey, who of­fi­cially took of­fice as su­per­in­ten­dent on July 1, said she is deeply com­mit­ted to the suc­cess of the New­ton County School Sys­tem, and noted that the com­mu­nity de­pends on her to pro­vide a solid, qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for its stu­dents.

In mak­ing the school sys­tem the best it can be for all stu­dents, Fuhrey said she has three key goals:

1) in­creased par­ent and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment;

2) en­sur­ing that stu­dents read at or above grade level by grade three;

3) and pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents who ex­cel.

Fuhrey was voted in as NCSS su­per­in­ten­dent in May and quickly set­tled into her new role, mak­ing key de­ci­sions for the cen­tral of­fice at the New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion’s June board meet­ing.

She rec­om­mended that the board ap­prove NHS Prin­ci­pal Craig Lock­hart as deputy su­per­in­ten­dent of schools, and As­sis­tant Prin­ci­pal Shan­non Buff as the di­rec­tor of sec­ondary cur­ricu­lum. Both were unan­i­mously ap­proved by the BOE.

“With the ad­di­tion of Dr. Lock­hart and Mrs. Buff to the cen­tral of­fice team, I think that we are well on our way to pro­pel­ling the school sys­tem to be one of the best in the state,” Fuhrey said. Be­cause she has worked with the

cen­tral of­fice, school lead­ers, teach­ers and sup­port staff for the past 12 years, Fuhrey said, no one knows the school sys­tem like she does, which is why she be­lieves she is the best per­son for the job.

“I have held a va­ri­ety of po­si­tions within the sys­tem, from as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal to my cur­rent role — as a re­sult, I am deeply knowl­edge­able about the sys­tem — from the work that goes on in school build­ing to the work of the cen­tral of­fice team.

“Our ef­forts are laser-fo­cused, and we are see­ing in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ment and tremen­dous growth in stu­dents’ achieve­ment,” Fuhrey said. “Now is not the time for a de­vi­a­tion from our cur­rent strate­gic frame­work.”

Fuhrey, whose daugh­ter Eva at­tends school in the NCSS, be­lieves that liv­ing in the com­mu­nity and hav­ing a child in the school sys­tem drives her com­mit­ment to mak­ing New­ton County Schools the best that they can be.

“I have a vested in­ter­est in the suc­cess of the school sys­tem,” she said. “It’s im­por­tant that she (Eva) ex­pe­ri­ences a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, and I be­lieve the same about my neigh­bors’ chil­dren as well. If it’s not good enough for my daugh­ter, it’s not good enough for your chil­dren, ei­ther.”

Re­gard­ing her key goals, Fuhrey said, “It has be­come in­creas­ingly more im­por­tant to en­gage our par­ents and com­mu­nity in such a way that they know what they can do to sup­port our chil­dren and our schools.

“You don’t have to look very far to find the re­search that demon­strates how im­por­tant par­ents are to the ed­u­ca­tional process. So, en­gag­ing the com­mu­nity and par­ents in mean­ing­ful, pro­duc­tive ways would be an en­hance­ment to our work.”

While the dis­trict has “worked fever­ishly” over the last few years to post im­prove­ments in test data, it hasn’t em­pha­sized early lit­er­acy, she said.

“We will look closely at our K-2 stu­dents to en­sure that as they exit sec­ond grade they are read­ing at or above grade level, Fuhrey said.

“Chil­dren through grade three are ‘learn­ing to read,’ but as they en­ter grade four, they are ‘read­ing to learn,’’ there is a dif­fer­ence.

“Fi­nally, we will work to pro­vide stu­dents who are ex­celling with ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­hance their knowl­edge and deepen their stud­ies. Our strate­gic frame­work re­flects a com­mit­ment to adding value to stu­dents who ex­cel as it re­quires that we an­swer the ques­tion of, ‘What do we do for stu­dents who have learned what has been taught?’’’ Fuhrey said.

“It is im­per­a­tive that we pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate chal­lenges for th­ese stu­dents so that they are re­quired to ‘stretch’ their think­ing and grow, ed­u­ca­tion­ally, at high rates.”

Fuhrey said in an ef­fort to con­tinue the trans­parency demon­strated un­der just-re­tired su­per­in­ten­dent Gary Mathews’ lead­er­ship, she in­tends to send out “The Month in Re­view” notes about what’s go­ing on in the school sys­tem; host in­ter­ac­tive, in­for­ma­tional meet­ings through­out the year; and con­tinue in­form­ing the com­mu­nity through so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

Though she said she will miss Mathews’ lead­er­ship, she is thrilled about the pos­si­bil­i­ties and the fu­ture of New­ton County schools.

“I have been in the ed­u­ca­tion busi­ness for over 20 years, and my fo­cus has re­mained the same from the onset of my ca­reer — the stu­dents,” Fuhrey said.

Danielle Ever­son /The Cov­ing­ton News

Sa­man­tha Fuhrey has set three key goals for New­ton County schools.

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