COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System will lose its leader at the end of the school year.
Superintendent Steven Whatley announced Tuesday night during the Board of Education's monthly meeting that he plans to retire at the end of June.
After 36 years as an educator, including almost 21 of those in the central office and nearly four as NCSS superintendent, Whatley simply said it was time for the retirement.
"It's time for me to move on to other challenges and interests," he said at the meeting.
"We want (the school system) to continue to improve and raise that bar. There are a lot of good things going on, and we know rough economic times are out there ... but we're still trying to achieve that bar."
Since July 1989, Whatley has worked at NCSS, serving since 1990 as an associate superintendent. In July 2006, Whatley replaced retiring Superintendent Wendell Clamp.
Prior to working in Newton County, he was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Baldwin County School System, associate superintendent for instruction in Pascagoula, Miss., and Vidalia and assistant principal for North Vicksburg High School and a mathematics and chemistry teacher in Vicksburg, Miss. Whatley has worked on numerous state education committees in Mississippi and Georgia and as leader in state and national professional learning workshops.
He is a graduate of Millsaps College, Mississippi College and the University of Georgia. He also has served as director of such organizations as the Newton County Community Partnership for Children and Families, the Covington/Newton County YMCA, the Arts Association of Newton County, the Covington Rotary Club and the Georgia Federal Credit Union.
Although Whatley doesn't plan to retire until June 30, when the school year ends, he said he wanted to make the announcement now so the school board had enough time to find a replacement.
"This puts the system in a better situation to make the transition as smoothly and effortlessly as possible," he said.
This will include advertising for the position, conducting interviews and eventually making that choice in enough time to transition.
"It's sad to see you go," said school board chair C.C. Bates during the meeting. "Your dedication to the community and school system has always been true. We wish you all the success in your retirement. Please know we'll miss you."
Whatley is married to Marilynn Whatley, a retired Newton County School System teacher. They have two children, daughter Erin Elizabeth, and son Richard Andrew, and two grandchildren.