By Patrick Yost editor

The Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) held a specially-called meeting on July 31 to announce the top candidate for superintendent to the public. The BOE has chosen James Woodard, the current CEO/principal of the Newton College and Career Academy in Covington, a charter high school that equips students for postsecondary education and career-skills.

“We have interviewed many qualified candidates, but at this point, we are choosing to announce a single candidate for superintendent, Mr. James Woodard,” said Nelson Hale, chairman of the BOE. “We look forward to having him join us in the near future.”

While the BOE has selected Woodard has their final choice, state statutes mandate a 14-day waiting period after the public announcement before the BOE can take a vote to make it official. “Everyone is on board with this decision,” assured Hale. “But we have to wait two weeks to give the public a chance to review our candidate.”“We chose Mr. Woodard because he demonstrated leadership and we feel like he will be a good fit for our system,” said Hale.

“We are excited to get to know Mr. Woodard and learn about his vision for our school system as we continue to work together to improve student performance!” said Sarah Burbach, assistant superintendent. “He is exactly what we need,” said Dave Belton, BOE member.

“We need to focus on the career academy aspect, so our kids can get these Baxter and Caterpillar jobs that are coming to our area. It’s very exciting to have this man join us,” said Belton.

“I have a passion for public education,” said Woodard. Woodard, 49, has lived in Morgan County for 13 years and has a 27-year background in education, with 10 of those years spent with the Georgia Department of Educaton. “One of the things that really excites me about Morgan County is the balance I see in the community between agriculture, industry, and history. It creates an opportunity for an engaging community in order to help every young person, not only graduate from high school, but graduate with some valuable skills and certifications,’ explained Woodard.

Woodard’s primary vision for Morgan County Schools is to cultivate an environment in which students can flourish academically, prepared to transition into postsecondary education. “I am a firm believer that almost all jobs in the future will require some form of postsecondary training,” explained Woodard. Woodard also intends to increase the graduation rate.

“We have a pretty good graduation rate, but there is always room for improvement,” said Woodard. “I think the number one thing is helping to lead the system, so we can minimize the number of students not reaching that milestone. We want to do that through engaging the community and students in career pathways, building programs that keep them in school and creating a culture with our staff as a team, so they understand that their role at the end of the day is to get kids graduated and ready to transition to postsecondary education,” said Woodard.

Woodard, and his family, have been active community members in Morgan County for over a decade. Woodard’s wife, Janet Woodard, is a Morgan County’s 4-H leader, working extensively with the youth. Their daughter, Claire Woodard, graduated from MCHS last year, and their son, Will Woodard, is currently an eighth-grader at MCMS. “Our family has taken advantage of this great school system personally and now we get to help lead and direct it,” said Woodard. “I am honored to do so.”