Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Samuel King was honored with a farewell reception Friday afternoon at the central office. After seven years in Rockdale, King is leaving to take the superintendent's position at Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia. King is shown here with Sandy Languell, who was his secretary in Clayton County for six years before coming to work for him for two years in Rockdale prior to her retirement. Languell described King as "a very honorable and moral man" and "one of the best people I have ever worked for." -- Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
CONYERS -- After seven years at the helm of Rockdale County Public Schools, friends, co-workers and well-wishers bade a formal good-bye to Superintendent Samuel King at a Friday afternoon reception at the central office on Main Street.
King is headed to Virginia where he will be superintendent of Norfolk Public Schools, a system with about 37,000 students in 37 elementary schools, nine middle schools, five high schools and several other specialty facilities. The Norfolk school system is more than twice the size of RCPS.
During his tenure in Rockdale, King has overseen a system that achieved Adequate Yearly Progress for the past six years. In addition, his individual accomplishments have been numerous. He was named Georgia's 2011 Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association after being a finalist for the previous three years. He serves on the advisory committee for the Vision Project for Public Education in Georgia to improve learning in the 21st century and as president for the GSSA.
He also has served as president of the Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Service Agency Governing Board and a member of the National Education Association, the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders and several other educational groups. He was on the Governor's Education Advisory Board in 2011.
As he prepares to leave RCPS, King stressed that all the system's accomplishments over the past seven years have been about teamwork. He said that teamwork has generated progress across the board in student achievement and will continue to do so after he is gone.
"When we look at a snapshot of this year as compared to last year we are ahead," King said Friday. "And I think that speaks volumes about what we've done."
On Friday colleagues shared their perspectives on King's leadership and legacy.
"Dr. King is a leader whose work is about transforming children's lives every day," said Laura Grimwade, director of Research, Assessment and Accountability for the school system. "He listens to and supports our ideas, as long as our ideas improve the academic and social achievements of the children, families, and community. Our work will continue; but, he will be missed."
Leslie DeMarco, director of Curriculum and Instruction, praised King's ability to focus on "the core of our mission, which is teaching and learning."
"During his service to the Rockdale community, he has taught us to be committed to and united by a common vision and purpose and to be driven by data so that we make steady progress toward achievement of that vision," DeMarco said. "When he says that our mission is to provide a world class education to all students, he means it and ensures that this remains the center of our daily work. He also always stressed to us that we can't reach the vision by ourselves; on the contrary, our students' success depends on the collaboration and collective work of the school system, parents, business and community leaders, and faith-based organizations. His leadership has been invaluable to this system and because of it, we will be able to continue to grow and improve."
King's leadership abilities were also recognized.
"Dr. King is an exceptional leader who will be greatly missed," said Cindy Ball director of Community Relations. "He has led our team of board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents and the community in a strategic and collaborative way which will have a lasting impact on us all. He is passionate about public education and always puts the best interest of the students at the center of all decision-making. I am grateful for the knowledge, leadership and friendship he has shared with me during the five years I have worked with him at Rockdale County Public Schools."
King said he is excited about the challenges ahead in Virginia and looking forward to building a strong team in that school system. King will begin his new duties in Virginia on July 2. In the meantime, he will be transitioning -- both personally and professionally -- between the two locations.
King said he will work with interim superintendent Billy Johnson to make sure that he is ready to take the reins when his duties here officially end on June 29.
Johnson, a Conyers resident and consultant for the Georgia School Board Association, was named interim superintendent last week while a search for a permanent replacement is under way.