Saunders breaks silence

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GATESVILLE – For the past 16 months Geneva Saunders has remained quiet over what she believes were the reasons for her transfer as principal of Gates County High School.

Saunders broke that silence last week.

In an email to the Gates County Index, Saunders said she has decided to come forward nearly one and one-half years after the fact because she wanted to explain to her father-in-law, Abram Saunders, in a public fashion as to why she was removed as the administrative leader at the county’s largest school.

“On February 14, 2011, I was transferred from the position of Gates County High School Principal,” Saunders wrote in her email. “Until now I have not put anything in the paper to try and explain my side of what happened.  I’m only doing this for my father-in-law.”

Mrs. Saunders said a week ago she asked her father-in-law was he disappointed in her for losing the position of principal at the high school?

“He said, ‘No, I’m not disappointed, I just couldn’t get anyone to give me the details’,” she noted.

She went on to say that she lost the principal’s position for the following reasons: “I would not play the game of politics; I tried to help people; I tried to make sure everyone was treated fairly; I told the truth; I followed the rules of life given to me by my mother; I tried to imitate Mr. William (Tommy) Lawrence; I tried to be as dedicated as Mr. Gregory; and I followed what I was taught in Sunday School.”

She continued, “In order for me to explain how I was not politically correct, I need to make sure everyone knows what it means to be politically correct. Aesop described it in the story of the man, his son and the donkey: the man walks, the son rides the donkey; the boy is criticized for being lazy so the son walks and the father rides; the man is accused of cruelty to his son so they both ride; people mutter because they are making the animal suffer so

neither rides; they are called stupid because they have a perfectly good animal and they are both walking. The moral is you can’t please everyone, and if you try you end up looking like an idiot, so you should do what is right.

Sadly, the politically correct have no idea of right and wrong, and try to accommodate everyone’s opinion. They might as well be carrying the donkey.”

After being removed as the GCHS principal, Saunders was reassigned as a Social Worker, responsible for the county’s three elementary schools (Buckland, Gatesville and T.S. Cooper). She said she served in that capacity for a short period of time.

Dr. Zenobia Smallwood, then the Superintendent of Gates County Schools, made no comment back in February of last year when asked by the Gates County Index of why the change was made regarding the leadership at the high school. Smallwood was also asked if the removal of Saunders as principal was approved by the Gates County Board of Education.

“I did not need their approval,” Dr. Smallwood replied. “It comes under my contract as superintendent to make changes such as these.”

For Saunders, the end of her administrative duties at the high school put the brakes on a career that began in simple fashion back in 1988. At that time she was initially hired by Gates County Public Schools as a secretary/book keeper in the Central Office.

She eventually was transferred to the high school where she served as the office receptionist before being shifted over to the Information Highway Room, a program instituted by Mike Conner which students used for online resources.

Saunders went back to college and earned a degree in Social Work, which allowed her to gain employment as a Social Worker at GCHS.

She again felt the urge to continue her education, this time at East Carolina University where she earned a Masters in School Administration. With that degree in hand she first landed the job as GCHS Assistant Principal before being promoted to the Principal’s office at the start of the 2010-11 academic year.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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