Published 11:19 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

New Dooly schools chief refuses to accept low expectations


“Doesn’t your child deserve to be great? Shouldn’t our students get the same education as children in Roswell… or even Houston County?”

That was the crux of the message given by the new Dooly County School Superintendent, Dr. Craig Lockhart, at a meet-and-greet session on Thursday.

“I don’t want our students competing with Crisp County or Macon County. I want them to compete with students in California or Japan,” he said in a speech during the meeting.

Lockhart has 21 years of experience as an educator. He began his career as a middle school science teacher, went on to serve as principal of two schools in Atlanta’s outer suburbs, and eventually took on the position of assistant school superintendent in the Newton County school system.

Lockhart’s experiences as a school principal may be the work most relevant to the challenges he faces in Dooly County. During his years as a school administrator he took the reins at one school and then another, each of which was underperforming. Both were nationally recognized for their academic performance by the end of his tenure.

During Thursday’s meeting, Lockhart pointed toward the bad headlines generated by the school system’s recent troubles. Governor Nathan Deal removed the entire Dooly County Board of Education nearly two years ago, and one of the county’s schools lost its accreditation.

“Those were hard pills to swallow,” Lockhart said, but he encouraged everyone who plays a role in Dooly County schools – from parents to principals – to refuse to accept low expectations and negative attitudes.

“We’re going to go on a journey, so pack your bags,” Lockhart told the audience. “It’s easy to remember the beginning and end of a journey, but it’s the middle that is important. The middle is where it can get rocky, but it’s also where we can show our true character.”

Lockhart announced a social media message he wanted to adopt as he takes on his role as the county’s top teacher: #thisisdooly. He asked supporters to use the motto when taking to various social media platforms to discuss or share photos of school accomplishments.

“In the past we were damaged, but now we are dedicated. In the past we were defeated, but now we are dynamic…” Lockhart proclaimed, and then asked the audience, “Will you join me?”

The man received a standing ovation.