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Fayette BoE picks Bearden as new superintendent

It was a quick motion and vote Tuesday night as members of the Fayette County Board of Education returned from executive session and agreed to offer the job of school system superintendent to Dr. Jeffrey Byron Bearden. The vote was 5-0 and came with no discussion.

Chairman Terri Smith after the meeting said Bearden will be notified of the board’s decision. She expects to have his answer and a contract ready to be affirmed at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 17.

Bearden was one of three finalists for the position.

Bearden on his application for the superintendent’s position listed his current employer as Maine School Administrative District 35 (Marshwood District) in Eliot, Maine where he serves as Superintendent of Schools at a salary of $128,500.

Bearden has served as Superintendent since 2007 and as an Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University in North Miami, Fla. since 2006. Prior to that time he served as Assistant Superintendent for Business in the Maine School Administrative District from 2001-2006. Bearden served as Superintendent in the Limestone School Department from 1999-2001, as Assistant Principal at Presque Isle High School (Maine) from 1996-1999, as District Athletic Administrator and Social Studies teacher from 1992-1996 and, also in the Limestone District, as an Language Arts teacher from 1990-1992 and varsity girls basketball coach from 1984-1992.

Bearden received an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 2003 and a M.Ed. in Educational Administration from the University of Maine in 1995. Bearden also holds a B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Maine. He has published papers on topics such as retaining teachers, employee wellness, tobacco use and learning techniques.

Responding to why he wanted to come to the school system, Bearden said, “The Fayette County School System is a place to live and work. I have had the opportunity to spend time in your community while visiting with my parents who live in Fayetteville. For me, it is the ideal job in the ideal location. I have been following your school district through your website and the media for several years. Your commitment to providing a quality educational program to the students you serve is impressive. I have listened to your Board podcasts and have read your strategic plan and the annual report. It is obvious to me that Fayette County would be a good fit for me personally and professionally.”

“Your district is much larger than the one I currently serve. However, I am convinced that if given an opportunity to interview for the position, the Board of Education will be excited about my candidacy. I have spent my entire adult life in leadership positions. I feel I am well prepared for this challenge. I am persistent, passionate, and resilient.”

“The superintendent is the ‘face’ of the district. I believe the Board would find me to have excellent communication skills and an engaging personality. The Board would also find me to be well prepared not only for the interview process but, if selected, in all aspects of my profession. ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’ I am ready for this new challenge in my professional life. I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the Board of Education how together we can make an already very successful school district even better,” Bearden said.

Stating his education philosophy, Bearden said he had “...established ten guiding principles that have served me will over the years and I believe these principles to be the elements of a successful school system:
1) Failure is unacceptable - We must diagnose early and prescribe to our students only methods that have evidence of success.
2) Students who have less must be given more - In order to level the playing field, children with the greatest needs must be provided the necessary resources, support, and time in order to close the achievement gap.
3) All students learn; as educators we must understand how they learn - A variety of instructional strategies and assessments is essential.
4) Students who are behind must work harder, longer, and under conditions that offer the possibility of success.
5) We must know our students well - Education is a relationship business.
6) Data must drive our decisions - Students work - outcomes - must determine the agenda for teacher work. We must document evidence of learning.
7) The culture of the school must be conducive to teaching and learning - schools must be safe.
8) Stay focused on the goal of student achievement - With a tough economy, it is easy to lose our focus on what is most important. School leaders cannot allow this to happen.
9) Form partnerships between home, school, and community. We must work together.
10) Celebrate success - Demonstrate support, appreciation, and respect for all students, faculty, and staff.”

Also in the running for the position were former Fayette County School System administrator Lyn Wenzel and Texas educator Dr. Roy “Cole” Pugh.

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