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Priddy reveals gameplan

WINDSOR – Dr. Michael Priddy officially took the reins of Bertie County Schools last week.

A Monday afternoon press conference was little more than an official introduction of the man who will guide the school district for the next five months.

Bertie County Board of Education Chairman Rickey Freeman began the press conference by welcoming the new interim school leader.

“The Board has confidence in the ability of Dr. Priddy to guide and direct Bertie County Schools during this transition period,” Freeman said. “We will be working closely with him to use all the resources available to us to provide the best opportunities and needs for the children of Bertie County.”

Upon being introduced, Dr. Priddy laid out his plans for his brief time running the school system. He said his approach would be different than the way he served as a full-time superintendent.

“You will see me in an active way, but it will be more in administration,” he said. “I’m going to continue what is already in place.”

Dr. Priddy said his main concern would be student achievement and that he would work to make sure teachers were able to teach.

He said his first goal was to make sure the schools were focused on academics and the education of children. To do that, he said, teachers should be in the classrooms and principals should be in their schools. Central administrative staff will assist them in providing what they need.

Dr. Priddy also said he would focus on finishing construction of the new middle school, located on U.S. 13 across from Bertie High School.

“We’re going to do our best to maintain a level of communication with the county commissioners, the community and the media,” he outlined as his final goal.

Dr. Priddy said education was a tough process and that leaders should guide that process.

“It’s a lot easier to talk about in the White House than to do in the classroom,” he said.

Dr. Priddy also discussed the changes being made at Bertie High School and the solid financial condition of the county school system. He said he questioned the district finance staff about financial condition because he felt it was an important piece of information.

“It was very important to me, Mr. Freeman,” he said to the board chair. “I didn’t want to walk into a bad situation financially.”

Dr. Priddy also commended the principals and central office staff of the school district as professionals.

“I’m pleased to be here,” he closed.

During the question portion of the event, the interim superintendent was asked what lured him out of retirement.

“There are points in our lives when we are asked to consider things you didn’t anticipate,” he said. “When you think about those requests, you recognize that maybe you’re the right one at the right time.

“What I decided is this is probably a calling for me at this point in time,” he said.

Dr. Priddy said he told the board in their initial conversation that it was not a question of whether he could do the job, but whether they felt he was the right person for it.

There was also a question concerning the quick timetable in bringing in an interim superintendent, but Dr. Priddy deferred to Freeman.

“We definitely didn’t want to be without leadership,” Freeman said. “We began the process through our attorneys immediately to find an interim and a permanent superintendent.”

Freeman also said there were multiple candidates considered by the board before they unanimously chose Dr. Priddy.

According to Freeman, Dr. Priddy has over 35 years of experience in education. He has served in all area of central office administration to include Superintendent, Association Superintendent for Auxiliary Services, Executive Director for Curriculum and Accountability, Associate Superintendent for Administration Services, Personnel and Transportation, Association State Superintendent for State Board Relations and Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Personnel.

Freeman also touched on a few of the recognitions received by Dr. Priddy during his educational career. They included the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the NAACP Community Service Award, the East Carolina University Educators Hall of Fame, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Outstanding Community Service and the Guilford County Administrator of the Year.

The school chief position in Bertie County became vacant two weeks ago when the school board voted 3-2 to terminate the contract of Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart.