New Superintendent Unanimously Appointed
Dr. Brian Hightower was unanimously appointed the next superintendent of schools Friday at a called board meeting.
The new superintendent’s term will begin Feb. 1 following Dr. Frank Petruzielo’s retirement.
“I stand ready to serve as your next superintendent and ensure that this school district will remain a shining light in the state,” Hightower said. “I look forward to the days ahead.”
The Cherokee County deputy superintendent was the sole finalist for the position, after much consideration by the board members.
“We received eight requests for applications and we received five completed and timely applications back to us. The applicants were from Georgia and two other states,” said Board Chair Kyla Cromer. “We decided at that meeting to conduct an interview with Dr. Hightower. We invited him in and his interview lasted about two-and-a-half hours, so we had a lot of questions and great discussion with him. After that interview, we decided to end the search and only consider Dr. Hightower.”
Cromer presented a PowerPoint highlighting Hightower’s credentials and experience at the meeting.
“When I went back and looked at his letters of recommendation and talked with people that have worked with Dr. Hightower over the years, these are the words that they used about him: hardworking, professional, well respected, extremely competent, insistent, fair, collegial, thorough, thoughtful, caring, problem solver, a leader, principled and disciplined,” Cromer said. “All of those characteristics have led him to be
very successful in these things that he has done, accomplishments in our county.”
Board member John Harmon said he would add the word “friend” to the list, after getting to know Hightower over the years.
“It was nice hearing the words that madam chair said that were written about you and I can attest to all of that,” Harmon said. “I can count on you as a friend and I look forward to seeing you bring Cherokee County at least a minimum three years doing even bigger and better things in this county.”
Hightower has spent 30 years as an educator, with 29 of those years within the Cherokee County School District.
“I am a little bit overwhelmed. I am so proud. To be a part of this organization for 29 of my 30 years has turned out to be the privilege of a lifetime and I am so glad I can enjoy that and celebrate that with you tonight,” Hightower said. “I want to take just a couple minutes to thank everyone for your tremendous support.”
Following the presentation, Hightower gave a speech of gratitude to board members, Petruzielo, his family, his colleagues, his mentors, friends and the community.
“Your show of support for me tonight, I believe, is not just about me in my appointment, but it is a statement regarding our school district. You continue to show how deeply you care for our children and the young men and women we serve on a daily basis, and I thank you for joining me now as your pending superintendent for the school board and the continuation of this partnership,” Hightower said.
The School Board ended the meeting with a vote to appoint Hightower to begin in February for a period of not more than three years.
“There’s 41,000 kids, somewhere around 80,000 parents and 4,600 employees that are counting on you, and I want you to know that I feel you have the right education, the experience and temperament to lead our system in the future and I look forward to working with you for many years I hope,” said School Board member Mike Chapman.
Hightower presented themes for the future of Cherokee County School District including focusing on teaching and learning, ensuring continuous improvement, embracing change, promoting engagement and collaboration, welcoming emerging technologies, championing public education and celebrating excellence.
“We will, as a district, continue to enact policies and practices that attract and retain highly qualified professionals, we will continue to initiate collaborative processes and will continue to build capacity among our teachers, administrators, students, parents, partners and community members,” Hightower said.
Hightower is a longtime resident of Cherokee County with his wife, Sue, and two children, Jonathan, 25, and Stephanie, 22.
Hightower has been in charge of school operations, programs and support for the local school system as the Cherokee County deputy superintendent.
Click here to view the original article at the Cherokee Tribune.