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Sams says resigning was tough

COVINGTON -- Former Newton High School Principal Roderick Sams said he didn't take the decision of resigning earlier this week lightly.

"I've made a lot of tough decisions, and this one has to be the toughest decision that I've ever made," he said Friday morning. "There are some things that have my focus now and have had my focus for some time. Hopefully, as time goes on, I can pull myself back into the community and become involved. ... I will continue to be a viable part of this community."

He said obviously turning in his letter of resignation on Wednesday afternoon was a hard decision to make at this time instead of waiting until the end of the semester or the end of the school year because of the relationships that he's built with students, faculty and community. He also was recently invited by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators to serve on a new Principal Leadership Network.

"I got to the point where I had to make a decision," Sams said.

He won't say exactly why he resigned from his position, except that it was for personal reasons.

"It's very personal," he said Friday. "It's not anything I want to share with the public. ... It has nothing to do with anyone else."

Sams said he appreciates the support he's already received from the district, school, students and community members.

"There are a lot of things that I've been dealing with that had gotten to the point that it had gotten away from me, so I had to step away," he said. "I was starting to not be the type of principal Newton High needed, so I thought I would step aside. ... I could not give Newton High my 100 percent attention."

He said interim principal Carl Skinner, who took over Monday and also continues to serve as director of Testing and Research at the Newton County School System, will be able to give the school the attention it needs.

"He will continue the good things that we have going on and add to them," Sams said.

Although Skinner is appointed as an interim replacement, the position still will be posted. NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews said Skinner's testing position hasn't been posted.

"We do not know whether Dr. Skinner will ultimately be selected to serve as the permanent principal," Mathews said. "Should Dr. Skinner, through the interview process, achieve the permanent principal's job, we will move to post the testing position immediately, as it is too important to leave vacant given state and federal accountability systems."

Sams said he hopes Skinner will get the position, as he worked as an assistant principal at NHS from 2002 to 2009.

"I hope he does apply for the position -- I have encouraged him," Sams said. "He knows the school better than I do."

Whoever gets into the position, Sams hopes that person will continue such new programs as the Academy of Liberal Arts, which brings with it a partnership with Oxford College.

"A lot of people did a lot of work for that program to be implemented," Sams said. "There's just going to be a different face on it. Even though the time of my leaving wasn't best, I feel good about the direction that the school is going."

After taking some time to work on some things, he hopes to eventually become involved with Newton High School and the educational community again.

"I am taking some time to get myself together ... to put myself back in the position to work towards my passion, which is still education," he said. "I love everyone, and I'm going to be fine. My family is going to be fine."

His wife Deena Sams still is employed at NCSS as the coordinator of Parent Community Involvement.

"We plan to stay here. We've fallen in love with Covington and Newton County," said Roderick Sams, who moved to the area in July 2008 for the principal's job. "I'm looking at doing some things, probably more in the private sector, (like) consulting, to allow me to utilize the abilities I do have and allow me time to work on some things. Being a principal at a high school doesn't allow me to do that."