Whiten Looks Back At Career in Stephens Co.

March 28, 2014

After five years as Stephens County School Superintendent and more than 30 years in the school system in all, Sherrie Whiten is moving on.

Whiten said her last day as Stephens County School Superintendent is today.

She started out as a classroom teacher at Big A Elementary School, before moving into school administration and eventually the Central Office.

Whiten said she considers herself extremely fortunate and very blessed.

“When I started out, all I wanted to was be a classroom teacher,” said Whiten.  “I loved that and through some turns and quirks, I would up having opportunities to do lots of different things.”

Whiten said she has had the privilege to work with outstanding people throughout her career in the school system.

Over more than 30 years in education, Whiten says she has seen a lot of changes.

She said that includes the classroom, where things are much different than when she started.

“When I first started teaching, you stayed in your classroom; you kept your door closed; you didn’t have a lot you could pull from,” said Whiten.  “You taught whatever you wanted to teach basically.”

She said that has changed dramatically over the last 15 years.

According to Whiten, it takes a lot of work together now to meet the needs of students.

“Now, the push is really to individualize and personalize instruction,” said Whiten.  “You have to work together as teams of teachers to provide what kids need.”

Whiten took over as the Stephens County School Superintendent in March 2009 after serving as Interim Superintendent following Gary Steppe’s departure.

She said she has enjoyed these five years as the superintendent.

“It has been a huge challenge,” said Whiten.

Whiten cited the increase in the school system’s graduation rate to over 90 percent as something she is very proud of.

“That is not something that I ever felt like was something the High School alone needed to look at,” said Whiten.  “That is something we need to look at from the time a child walks in our door in Kindergarten and to make sure each year, they are successful because if they are not, they are not going to graduate.”

During her time as Superintendent, Whiten also oversaw the completion of the new part of Stephens County High School and the move towards making Stephens County a charter school system.

Whiten said transitioning to a charter system will be one of the main things the next superintendent will have to deal with.

“They are going to have to get it up and running,” said Whiten.  “At the same time, there are tremendous opportunities there for the community and for making sure kids are better prepared to take their place in the workforce in Stephens County.”

Whiten said other issues facing the school system moving forward include the upcoming budget and system wide accreditation.

As for Whiten, she will stay in the education field after retirement.

She said she will be the Co-Director at the Mountain Education Center in Toccoa and also do consulting work for the National Dropout Prevention Center.

Meanwhile, the Stephens County Board of Education is continuing to search for Whiten’s replacement.

Assistant Superintendent Jason Kaup will serve as the Interim Superintendent until that new superintendent is named.

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