BOE names new NHS principal

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education members voted Monday night during their quarterly planning meeting to approve the appointment of a new principal at Newton High School for the 2008-09 school year, according to the Newton County School System.

Roderick Sams was approved as the new principal of Newton High School at a salary of $113,191. Current principal Joe Gheesling announced his resignation in February, as he intends to serve as principal at North Hall High School in Gainesville.

"We are pleased to have as principal of Newton High a person of Dr. Sams' caliber," NCSS Superintendent Steve Whatley said in a printed statement. "Through his leadership in education and the community, he has shown that he is goal-oriented and data-driven in the achievement of his students and school and has and uses those innate sensibilities of a caring administrator. His current Superintendent best describes him as "a hard worker, a deep thinker, but a man with a caring spirit.'"

Sams is principal of Blakeney Elementary School in Burke County, a position he's held since July 2006.

He began his career in education as a paraprofessional at Blakeney Elementary School while attending Georgia Southern University, according to the press release. He earned his Bachelor of Science in early childhood education in 1993 and was hired as a fifth-grade teacher at Blakeney Elementary School that same year.

In 1997, he was promoted to assistant principal at Burke County High School, and in 2001, he was named principal at Sardis-Girard-Alexander Elementary School.

The school system's statement said Sams has been involved in several leadership programs, including Georgia's Leadership Institute for School Improvement, Leadership Georgia and Leadership Burke.

He has also served as committee chairperson for the Burke County School District Accreditation Committee and AdvancEd/Southern Association of College and Schools.

He is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders.

He is the recipient of several awards, including the Cora Lee Fanning Leadership Georgia Award, the Burke County Black Coalition Education Award and the Georgia Retired Educator Association Outstanding Educator Award. In addition, Sardis-Girard-Alexander Elementary School was named a Distinguished Title I School for four consecutive years during his tenure as principal.

Sams said he saw Newton County as a "tremendous opportunity" for his family.

"I appreciate the progressive nature of the community," he said in the NCSS release. "From what I've observed and what I've already been told by members of the community, it is a wonderful place to live and the type of place my family can grow and prosper."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd @newtoncitizen.com.