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School board approves new system administrators

The Newton County Board of Education approved Tuesday for Dr. Craig Lockhart, current principal of Newton High School, to be the Newton County School System's next deputy superintendent of Schools. The board also approved Shannon Buff, current assistant principal at NHS, as the director of Secondary Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development at NCSS. Both are effective Monday.

The Newton County Board of Education approved Tuesday for Dr. Craig Lockhart, current principal of Newton High School, to be the Newton County School System's next deputy superintendent of Schools. The board also approved Shannon Buff, current assistant principal at NHS, as the director of Secondary Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development at NCSS. Both are effective Monday.

COVINGTON -- Two more Newton High School administrators are being internally promoted.

The Newton County Board of Education approved Tuesday for Dr. Craig Lockhart, current principal of Newton High School, to be the Newton County School System's next deputy superintendent of Schools. The board also approved Shannon Buff, current assistant principal at NHS, as the director of Secondary Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development at NCSS. Both are effective Monday.

Last month, the board approved Dr. Sandra Owens, current assistant principal at Newton High School, as the new principal for Alcovy High School, also effective with the 2013-14 school year. On Tuesday, the board approved Chasha Colbert as assistant principal at NHS to replace Owens.

The positions approved Tuedsay are part of Fuhrey's new NCSS organizational chart, which the board approved in May. The hiring of the two new positions will be at no additional cost to the budget. Lee Peck, current executive director for School Improvement, will become the director of Elementary Curriculum & Instruction and Professional Development, as his current position dissolves with the new plan.

Last month, Fuhrey said the new organizational plan streamlines the central office staff without affecting the budget.

"Dr. Lockhart brings a lot to the table," said retiring Superintendent Gary Mathews on Tuesday about his recommendations to the board. "He's a leader among leaders in this state. He knows school improvement; he knows curriculum and instruction, and he can teach."

Lockhart holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from Fort Valley State University, a masters degree in educational leadership from Georgia State University and an educational doctorate degree in educational leadership from Argosy University.

He began his educational employment as a middle and high school teacher in Taylor County, and he also taught in DeKalb County. He came to NHS as principal in 2010, after serving as assistant superintendent for a year in the Bibb County School System.

"I'm honored to receive this opportunity," said Lockhart after Tuesday's vote. "I live here, I work here and I worship here, and my three children go to school here."

Even though he's excited about moving up, he said the moment is bittersweet, since he will have to leave Newton High School and only get to have an office in the new building for a few days.

"It is like a child to me," he said about the school that he has helped improve over the last few years. "But we will make sure we have the very best leadership in place, and I will always be around."

Buff holds a bachelor of science degree in social science education from the University of Georgia and a masters of education degree and an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from Georgia College & State University. She is beginning her educational doctorate degree in educational leadership with a curriculum and instruction emphasis from Walden University next month.

She has spent her entire educational career at Newton High School, starting with student teaching. She was a social studies teacher from 2005 to 2012 and a social studies department chair from 2008 to 2012; she's also been the program director of the Summer Bridge Program, an instructional focus coordinator, an assistant testing coordinator and a teacher on assignment for curriculum and instruction at the school from 2010 to 2012.

"I'm obviously very excited about this opportunity," Buff said, adding that she too is bittersweet about leaving NHS. "I'm very committed to education in Newton County."

Incoming NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said Tuesday that the two will be instrumental in moving the system forward in student achievement and building background knowledge.

She said the staff will work diligently in finding a new, strong administrative team for NHS and transitioning to the new building.

The positions are posted on www.teachgeorgia.org with a closing date of July 7. The school board meets again at 7 p.m. July 16 in the board room at the Newton County BOE building, which is located at 2109 Newton Drive NE in Covington.

Also Tuesday, the school board approved Dr. Patrick Carter as the Special Education Secondary coordinator, effective Monday, replacing Christina Sneed.

He's currently the assistant principal at Live Oak Elementary School; he's also worked at Alcovy High School and in Clayton and DeKalb County public schools after he moved from a school system in Tennessee. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in math from Morehouse College, a master of education in math from Christian Brothers University and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Capella University.