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Richard Woods becomes Georgia’s 22nd State School Superintendent

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358, mcardoza@gadoe.org or Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 656-5594, mfrick@doe.k12.ga.us

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 January 12, 2015 -- Richard Woods was sworn into office today as Georgia’s 22nd State School Superintendent. A 22-year public school educator and former small business owner, Superintendent Woods brings years of experience and a commitment of collaboration to improve Georgia's schools.  

“I am honored to serve as State School Superintendent and excited about the future of education in Georgia,” said Superintendent Woods. "Though we face many challenges, I am committed to listening to students, parents, and teachers, and working with the Governor, State Board, and General Assembly to develop solutions that ensure the betterment of our children's future and the teaching profession.”

Superintendent Woods has several issues he will concentrate on immediately. He will work to improve collaboration, ensure child-focused and classroom-centered instruction, and improve communication with education stakeholders. Below are some of these initiatives (full list here​):

Collaboration

     Will conduct a series of Teacher Focus Groups and Community Town Hall events across the state to listen to the concerns and ideas of our students, parents, and teachers.

Child-Focused and Classroom-Centered

Math

     Will allow our schools to offer traditional discrete math courses or integrated math courses, and to finally address the challenges our individual students and teachers face at the high school level.


Common Core

     Committed to the idea -- as are the Governor and State BOE -- that our students deserve the very best standards; proposed revisions are a step in that direction. Public comments show that concerns remain -- especially by our teachers -- and more revisions need to take place as we hear from educators throughout the state.


Science and Social Studies Standards

     Agreement with Governor and State BOE that our Science and Social Studies standards must be Georgia-owned and Georgia-grown.  


Foundational Standards

     Will establish and define foundational standards for K-5 that ensure our students have a firm footing for academic success.

     One basic foundation we must emphasize is identifying reading deficiencies early and providing professional development to equip all elementary grade teachers to meet the needs of these students (also a shared passion of First Lady Sandra Deal).


Graduation

     Supports Governor’s push for Computer Science to count as a fourth-year core math or science credit. Will work with State Board to expand this concept by allowing courses such as financial literacy and other Career, Tech and Agriculture courses to count as core credit toward graduation.

     Will look at offering a wide range of diploma seals -- from Career Pathways to AP and honors course completion -- to personalize education.


Testing

     Calling on members of the General Assembly to explore ways to diminish the burden of excessive testing and will work closely with GaDOE staff to develop the most effective diagnostic testing system possible.

     Will continue working with the State Board on this issue by asking for a one-year moratorium on the use of test scores in the CCRPI school-grading measurement.


Teacher Evaluation

     Will work to free up administrators to focus on teachers entering the profession or those who continue to struggle in the classroom, while allowing our great teachers to teach and treating them as professionals by allowing content- or grade-level peers from surrounding schools or school systems to provide these teachers with real professional feedback.

     Will work to ensure we find the right balance between accountability and responsibility.


Funding

     Will work with all parties to ensure that as many dollars as possible flow into our classrooms to directly support the success of our students.

     A critical part of this is creating a funding formula that provides every child with access to a quality education -- whether it be a child in Tift County or one in Forsyth County.


Communication

     Plan to launch a public awareness campaign to highlight all the initiatives taking place in our schools across the state.


Georgians have a history of pulling together to meet our challenges head on. With great challenges come great opportunities,” Superintendent Woods said. “There are no greater opportunities than the 1.7 million students and 100,000+ teachers in our classrooms every day. With a collaborative effort, real communication, and the pursuit of classroom-centered and child-focused policies, we can realize the full potential of our great state.”


Superintendent Woods’ Biography:

Richard Woods was born in Pensacola, Florida, and while growing up in a military family, lived in California, Hawaii, and Virginia before moving to Georgia. He graduated from Fitzgerald High School, and went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Kennesaw State University and a Master’s Degree from Valdosta State University.

Woods has over 22 years of Pre-K through 12th grade experience in public education. Woods was a high school teacher for 14 years, serving as department chair and teacher mentor. During his tenure, he was also selected as Teacher of the Year. For eight years Woods served in various administrative roles such as assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, testing coordinator, Pre-K director, and alternative school director.

Woods also brings a business background to the superintendent's position, having been a purchasing agent for a national/multi-national laser company and a former small business owner.

He and his wife Lisha, a retired 30-year educator, are long-time residents of Tifton and have been married for 24 years.​

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