New Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee was welcomed by community leaders like she was an old friend during a meet-and-greet Thursday at the Liberty County Schools Performing Arts Center.
Elected officials from county and city governments met Lee during the first hour of the reception. Teachers, staff and parents dropped by during the second half of the event.
Prior to the meet-and-greet, school-board members held a called meeting to approve scheduled training for individual board members and the entire board. New board members are required to receive 15 hours of training, while veteran board members must have nine hours. The board as a group is required to have three hours of training.
Training sessions are conducted by training providers who have been approved by the state board of education.
The board also went into a closed session to discuss personnel. Dr. Debbie Rodriguez was made assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. Rodriguez had served as the interim in that position. The board approved hiring five teachers, three special-education paraprofessionals and two bus aides. The board also accepted the resignations of two teachers, three cooks and one special-education paraprofessional.
Lee was hired by the school board June 25 and began her tenure the same day. She was superintendent of Twiggs County Schools from 2010-12 and assistant superintendent of Clayton County Schools from 2009-10. In 2008, she was interim superintendent for Clayton’s public schools.
In her first month on the job, Lee’s recommendation to reorganize senior-level staff was approved by the school board. The hiring of a deputy superintendent and director of transportation would be delayed until a future budget cycle, Lee has said. The system now has four assistant superintendents: one over operations, which includes supervising transportation; one for administrative services; one who oversees student services; and another for teaching and learning.
Former Liberty County School Superintendent Edgar Edwards heartily greeted Lee and school-board members when he arrived to the reception. Edwards said Lee is the seventh superintendent the school system has had since he retired about 23 years ago. Edwards became superintendent of Liberty’s public schools in the late 1960s and he served in that capacity for about 20 years. He taught and coached at Bradwell Institute from 1950-57 and was principal of the high school from 1958-68. He also is a World War II veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy from 1944-46 in both the Atlantic and Pacific.
Former educator and school-board member Carolyn Smith-Carter told the Courier some of her former students attended the reception for Lee, including Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette. Smith-Carter taught at a number of schools, including the recently closed Jordye Bacon Elementary School. She said some of her best years in teaching were spent there.
Walthourville City Council Member Sarah Hayes greeted Lee and posed for a photograph with Liberty County school-board member Harold Woods. Hayes also spoke about her educational outreach with senior citizens. Hayes said she has taught seniors basic and intermediate computer-usage classes.
“We’ve had 14 graduates so far,” she said. Her next class is in September, and she said people already are lining up to take the class.
Lee’s back-to-school schedule includes a system-wide convocation for teachers Tuesday at Bradwell Institute. Students return to school Wednesday. Lee has been invited to speak at the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce Progress through People luncheon Aug. 15. To RSVP, call 368-4445 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.