The search is over. The McDuffie County Board of Education has its man.
At a special called meeting on April 30, the board formally voted and announced its decision to hire Dr. Mark Petersen to take the reigns of the school system. Dr. Petersen, currently the superintendent of schools in Lanier County, Ga. will take over for the retiring Dr. Ed Grisham on July 1.
The board is happy with its choice, voting unanimously in favor of Dr. Petersen. But even more pleased was Dr. Petersen himself.
"We're ecstatic. It's a dream come true," he said. "We have an opportunity to come to a school system that has a strong tradition both academically and extracurricular. We're exciting about being a part of it."
Dr. Petersen has served as the superintendent of the three-school-system in Lanier County for three years. He was a middle school principal in Pickens County prior to being named superintendent in Lanier County.
Dr. Petersen earned both his doctorate and specialist degrees of educational leadership from University of Georgia. He has also taught at the elementary school level which was a plus in the eyes of the BOE.
"I think he brings a lot of knowledge because he served as an elementary teacher, and he's also been principal in middle schools, as well as being superintendent," said Board Chair Tommy Phelps. "I think he will bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm as well."
Dr. Petersen is already making plans for the McDuffie County school system, but it won't be huge changes overnight. He said he will "honor the past, challenge the present and envision the future.
"We don't have a silver bullet," he said. "We think there's a lot of terrific staff there, terrific community involvement, and we want to spend some time and listen to the people of McDuffie."
The board found Dr. Petersen's ideas to be aligned with how the people of McDuffie County expect the school system to be run. That entails a delicate balance of several things.
"He brings a focus on academics, but at the same time he has an interest in and enjoys all the components of an extracurricular program, from arts and band to athletic events including football and basketball." Mr. Phelps said.
The job change will not mean Dr. Petersen will have to buy new mascot memorabilia. He's a UGA graduate and the mascot of Lanier County is also the Bulldogs.
Dr. Grisham spoke briefly with Dr. Petersen by phone after he was approved by the board. Dr. Petersen said he was glad to hear that Dr. Grisham would be available to help in any way whenever he was needed.
"There are some tremendous shoes that are currently there," Dr. Petersen said. "McDuffie County over the last 20 years has had some tremendous leadership, and we want to be able to continue that tradition."