By CARL SMITH
The Starkville School District Board of Trustees unanimously hired Jody Jones Woodrum, a former Bulloch County, Ga. School administrator with 25 years of educational experience, as its newest assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Tuesday. She starts her job immediately.
Woodrum replaces former Assistant Superintendent Beth Sewell after Sewell departed the district in July. Woodrum will make $130,000 per year in her new position, $45,000 shy of current Superintendent Lewis Holloway’s salary.
At the Bulloch County School District, Woodrum served as assistant superintendent over teaching and learning (2007-2012), curriculum developer for its elementary schools (2005-2007) and Brooklet Elementary School Principal.
Before his arrival in Starkville, Holloway served as district superintendent in Bulloch County. Holloway said he worked with Woodrum for approximately five years.
More than 20 people applied for the vacant assistant superintendent position, Holloway said Monday, and Woodrum was chosen from six finalists. The search process properly vetted all candidates that applied, he said. Woodrum, Holloway said, was a late entry into the search process.
“We’ve had six interviews and 20-something applications. I’d say absolutely (each candidate was properly vetted) because we looked at each of those applications very closely,” Holloway said. “Dr. Woodrum only came into the picture in the last couple of weeks.”
In August, Holloway said the search process could last until January due to conflicts created by other schools’ academic calendars.
“When I found out that Dr. Sewell was leaving, (Woodrum) was the first person on my mind to get to come to Starkville because she knows our programs,” Holloway said. “That’s a very specific skill set.”
“Dr. Woodrum brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Starkville School District,” he added in a press release after Tuesday’s meeting. “Her comprehensive understanding of MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing, Fast ForWord and Reading Street combined with her experience as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent makes her a great fit for our district. An administrator for 25 years, she’s also experienced in analyzing data, problem solving and strategic planning.”
Prior to her stint in Bulloch County, Woodrum taught seventh grade language arts and served as a curriculum assistant/assistant principal at Claxton Middle School in Evans County, Ga. for 10 years.
Woodrum holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., and Ed.S. and Ed.D. degrees from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga.
While serving Bulloch County School District, Woodrum initiated the use of MAP and Compass Odyssey, a computer-assisted learning program, to individualize learning for each student based on ability level. She also implemented Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord program to build fluency and improve literacy, and extended learning alternatives.
Most recently, Woodrum served with Scientific Learning as a professional development manager for eight months.
“My tenure with Scientific Learning provided the opportunity for me to work in schools in three states (Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina) implementing technology to compliment excellent instruction, but it also made me yearn to get back to an environment where I could work directly with students, teachers, administrators and parents,” Woodrum said in a release.
“Dr. (Lewis) Holloway is an incredible leader, a man with vision and the kind of administrator I aspire to be like,” she said following Tuesday’s meeting. “My personal mission as an educator is to facilitate learning and make a difference. I always feel like I want to find something I can contribute to make a difference for students.
“Coming back to an educational setting to work with one group with one mission like the one here, to have all those tools and programs in place, it’s a dream come true. The energy and vitality is here; I could feel it when I got out of my car,” she added. “I feel like I can offer something to the school district while continuing to learn, expand and grow.”
Woodrum spent two days in Starkville last week visiting the school district and various constituents. In her first impression of SSD, she said she saw impressive patterns with test score data and cohorts of students progressing through the ranks.
“There’s always room to grow and improve on,” she said, “but there’s definitely growth and progress here at Starkville School District.”
During her first upcoming weeks at the school district, Woodrum said she will help the administration analyze MAP testing data, help with computer-assisted learning programs for students based on MAP data and work to bring professional development opportunities to district educators.
“I’ll be taking the plans in place that people have put a lot of thought into, getting up to speed and ironing out the details,” she said. “Everyone here has been very welcoming, and I feel very blessed to be here. I’ve already seen some fabulous teachers in action, and I look forward to being back in classrooms and learning from them.”