PCHS principal Dara Bennett will be Pierce County’s new school superintendent.
Bennett was unanimously selected for the job during the Board of Education’s regular monthly work session last Thursday morning. The meeting was conducted via Youtube due to the threat from COVID-19 (coronavirus).
The selection came after a one hour and 14 minute closed session to discuss personnel.
Bennett says she looks forward to serving the community in her new role.
“I am humbled and excited to be the next Superintendent of the Pierce County School System. It is a privilege I do not take lightly. Pierce County has great students, teachers, and administrators along with a very supportive community. I will work to uphold the standard of excellence that has been established here.”
“I can’t say how proud we are to have Mrs. Bennett as our new superintendent,” said board chairperson Linda Zechmann after the vote.
Board members also offered
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their congratulations as well.
“I have no doubt she will continue to make excellence the standard in Pierce County Schools,” said second district board member Mitch Hall.
Fourth district board member Duward Boatright said he is confident Bennett will do well in her new role.
Bennett was selected over her fellow co-finalist and co-worker, Midway Elementary principal Dr. Walker Todd.
Zechmann and Boatright pointed out Pierce County Schools are fortunate to have so much local talent.
“We had two excellent local candidates,” said Zechmann.
The board named Bennett and Todd the finalists two weeks ago and by law had to wait 14 days before making a hire. The 14 day period was up Wednesday, April 1. Bennett and Todd were among 11 candidates who applied for the job of superintendent.
Board members said in light of the current uncertainties, they wanted to go on and make a hire so a new leader can begin working on the challenges that lie ahead.
“We don’t want to remain in limbo,” said Zechmann just prior to the vote.
Contract negotiations are underway and may be finalized this week. A called meeting is set for 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 7, to discuss personnel.
Bennett’s promotion to superintendent now leaves a vacancy for principal at the high school. The board will begin advertising that position this week.
The new superintendent began her career as a science teacher at Brantley County High School in Nahunta in 1994. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Valdosta State University and an educational leadership degree from Nova University. She has served as an administrator at both the elementary and high school levels.
She began as an assistant principal at Hoboken Elementary and for 10 years was the assistant principal for curriculum and instruction at PCHS. She has served as principal at PCHS for the last seven years.
Bennett was named 2008 assistant principal of the year by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals and 2018 Georgia Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
During her tenure at PCHS, the school has been a NASSP breakthrough school in both 2013 and 2017 and a showcase school in 2013. PCHS was a Title 1 Distinguished School in 2018 and a National Blue Ribbon School in 2019.
Bennett lives in Blackshear with her husband of 30 years, Cary Bennett.
The Bennetts have one daughter, Cara Lynn, and two granddaughters, Chloe Lynn and Zoe Lynn.
She is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church.
Bennett will take over for Dr. Kevin Smith who announced in January he would be stepping down when his term expires in June. Smith has served as superintendent for the past three years.