BOE names 3 finalists for superintendent

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System and Board of Education are one step closer to choosing a new superintendent.

The school board announced Thursday that it has selected three finalists to replace outgoing Superintendent Steven Whatley, who announced in late October his plans to retire on June 30 after more than 20 years at NCSS and four years as superintendent.

"We reviewed all of the (51) applications that met the qualifications set out by the board through GSBA and were very impressed by the caliber of applicants," said Cathy Dobbs, chair of the Newton County Board of Education, in a press release Thursday. "We interviewed six of those candidates over a two-day period and have now narrowed it down to our final three."

Dr. Steven Excell Ballowe

Ballowe serves as principal of Glynn Academy in the Glynn County School District, where he has been employed since 2008. From 2001 to 2008, he served as school superintendent for Gainesville City Schools.

There, he earned state and national recognition for developing the "Gainesville Model," which he implemented in his district to improve student achievement. Originally, test scores in the district routinely ranked in the bottom quartile for the state, and by 2008, student achievement in Gainesville City Schools reached the top 5 percent of school districts in Georgia.

He has also served as a deputy superintendent for Beaufort County Schools in South Carolina, executive director of Governors School in Virginia and superintendent of Hopewell Schools in Virginia. He began his career in education as a teacher in Lynchburg, Va., and also worked as principal and assistant principal in two South Carolina school districts.

Ballowe earned a bachelor's degree in history from the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., in 1971; a master's degree in education from Lynchburg College in 1977; an education specialist from the University of South Carolina in 1982; and a doctorate of philosophy from the University of South Carolina in 1986.

He has authored "Georgia MAGIC" and "The Gainesville Model" and has presented at numerous workshop sessions for the Georgia School Boards Association.

Dr. Timothy Gerard Lull

Lull most recently served as superintendent of the Walton County School System from April 4, 2004, until his resignation in September. Prior to that, he was superintendent of Opp City Schools in Opp, Ala., from 2001 to 2004.

He began his career in education as a teacher and coach in Huntsville, Ala., and has experience as a principal and assistant principal of schools in Alabama. He's been an adjunct professor for Troy State University at Dothan and was an instructor at the Alabama Renaissance Technology Academy for School Leaders at the Alabama State Department of Education, where he worked to improve computer skills of superintendents and principals and encouraged the greater implementation of technology in the schools.

The Georgia Governor's Office of Workforce Development appointed Lull in 2007 to the Policy Academy Bio-Tech Team to develop strategies to attract bio-tech industry to Georgia.

Lull served about 30 years in the Alabama Army National Guard as a platoon leader, unit commander and deputy commander. He also served on the staff of the Adjutant General before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2001.

Over the years, Lull has volunteered on the board of directors of the Walton Career Academy, the Walton County Board of Health, the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, the American Heart Association of Morgan County and the Boys and Girls clubs of Morgan County.

He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Florence State University in Alabama in 1972; a master's degree in physical education from the University of Tennessee in 1973; a certification in educational leadership from the University of North Alabama in 1984; an education specialist degree in education leadership from North Alabama in 1997; and a doctorate in education from the University of Alabama in 2000.

Dr. Gary Steven Mathews

Mathews serves as the superintendent of the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools in Williamsburg, Va., a position he's held for five years.

He has more than 18 years of experience as a school district superintendent, previously working as superintendent of Carroll Independent School District in Texas, Rockwood School District in Missouri, East Baton Rouge School District in Louisiana and St. Johns County School District in Florida.

He was an assistant superintendent for instructional services for the Spring Branch Independent School District in Texas and the assistant superintendent for curriculum for Jackson Public Schools in Mississippi.

He began his education career in 1976 as a high school teacher at JFK High School in New Orleans, La., and has experience as a high school principal.

He's earned several awards and honors throughout his career in education -- The Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development named him Virginia Curriculum Leader of the Year in 2007, and the Education Technology Think Tank in Washington, D.C., awarded him the ET3 TEC Champion Leadership Award in 2006. He was the Louisiana Superintendent of the Year in 1998, and in 1996, the Public Relations Association of Louisiana named him the Louisiana Communicator of the Year.

Mathews is a member of the American Association of School Administrators, the American Educational Research Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Delta Kappa, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents and the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. He has also served in numerous civic organizations including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Rotary Club, YMCA, Boy Scouts, United Way and Little League.

He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Louisiana State University in 1975; a master's degree in educational administration from Loyola University in Louisiana in 1979; and an education specialist in educational administration and a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1981 and 1982, respectively.

The Newton County school board members have not set a target date to announce the new superintendent. The date a new superintendent assumes office is negotiable, according to an NCSS flyer announcing the position.

"The board members will now work together to determine who would be the best person to lead our school system," Dobbs said in the press release. "Our next step will then be to negotiate a contract with that person. Our hope is to have this done as soon as possible."

The board enlisted the help of the Georgia School Boards Association to conduct a nationwide search for the position at a cost of $8,000.