Then, there were two.
The next superintendent of Pierce County Schools will be Pierce County High School Principal Dara Bennett or Midway Elementary principal Dr. Walker Todd.
The school board named Bennett and Todd as finalists for the position following a three hour and 47 minute closed session. Both candidates were interviewed by the board separately during the closed session. The interviews were conducted during a special called meeting last Wednesday.
By state law, the board must now wait 14 days before making a final selection and naming the next superintendent.
The candidates’ applications and biographical information will be available to the public, upon request at The Times’ office until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1.
There is no time line for the hire of the new superintendent, however. The Board’s monthly work session at 8 a.m. Thursday, April 2, and the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, April 6 are in limbo owing to the potential threat of the coronavirus.
Bennett 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 the 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.
She was named the 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.
Todd is the first principal of Midway Elementary and has served in that role since the school opened in 2010.
Prior to that, he had been an assistant principal at Blackshear Elementary for five years. He taught science and coached at his alma mater and also taught one year at the middle school. He graduated from PCHS in 1992.
Todd earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia and his master’s degree from Valdosta State University. He earned his specialist and doctorate degrees from Argosy University in Sarasota, FL.
Midway has received numerous state and national honors during Todd’s tenure, including being named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2016.
He and his wife, Jill, have two daughters, Logan Todd and Leigha Todd, and three sons, Griffin O’Quinn, Patrick O’Quinn and Tucker O’Quinn. The family attends First Baptist Church.
Bennett and Todd were among the 11 candidates who applied for the job of superintendent.
The new superintendent 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.