Last week marked the beginning of a new era in the McDuffie County School system in more ways than one. Dr. Mark Petersen presided over his first McDuffie County School Board meeting. And with a new superintendent, assistant superintendent as well as a new high school principal in place, the face of the school system has started to change.
Former Superintendent Ed Grisham and former Thomson High Principal Bill Reese have settled into retirement. Former Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Gwen Rountree could be found around the office assisting her replacement, Dr. Margie Waters, and finishing some office cleaning during the first weeks of the transition.
Mark Petersen already has Thomson Bulldog paraphernalia in his office.
While the old guard was moving on, the new faces were getting a running start. New Superintendent Dr. Mark Petersen spent his first day on the job meeting with the central office staff. He met with his secretary and the assistant superintendents in the morning, discussing their roles and responsibilities.
"Basically I scheduled meetings all day with staff members," he said. "I'm trying to get as much information as I can because before long the children are coming."
Dr. Petersen said he believes in a team mentality in operating the school system. He hopes to get oriented to everyone's position so that he will know how he can assist them in doing their job.
"All of us are greater than one of us," he said.
After a meal with the Thomson Rotary Club on his first day, Dr. Petersen met with new THS Principal Rudy Falana to discuss the direction of the school for the upcoming school year. During the afternoon, Dr. Petersen met with his central office leadership group.
"The honeymoon is here," Dr. Petersen said. "We're excited. We've got lots of plans and we're going to try and raise the bar in Thomson, Ga. and take care of these children. That's what it's all about. ... It has been a hectic week, but there's a teriffic staff that's helped me in every way."
The board was eager to welcome the system's new leader at the July meeting. And they are confident of his abilities.
"Today, Dr. Petersen will officially begin his journey of leading our school board from good to great," said School Board Vice Chair Georgia Hobbs.
Also making their debut in the McDuffie County school system were Dr. Waters and Mr. Falana. Both spent their first days getting oriented to the system and the community.
"I did a lot of reading," Dr. Waters said. "We looked at standards, and hopefully we're going to have a successful year, of course. It's just a matter of getting together. The team met, and we're planning our strategy for the year."