Pulliam busy visiting schools before taking reins

By Greg Gelpi

Clayton County's new superintendent, Barbara Pulliam, hasn't officially begun work, but is already busy learning the school system.

Pulliam met privately with a number of senior school administrators and toured a handful of county schools Wednesday.

"It was really neat because I've heard about her," Lauren Cook, a fifth-grader at Arnold Elementary School, said. "I've heard she is supposed to be really really good."

Pulliam visited a few classes at Arnold, capping off a day of touring schools throughout the county.

"I didn't know who she was at first," Arnold fifth-grader Cameron Littrell said. "For somebody who is the superintendent of all of the schools to come here was impressive."

Littrell and Cook both said they were surprised by the visit, especially since the school system has more than 50,000 students.

"Her first priority for us is to learn a lot more," Cook said.

Arnold Elementary Principal Faith Duncan said she was impressed by Pulliam's openness and friendliness.

"She was very student-oriented," Duncan said. "It was a whirlwind tour, but I was appreciative of the visit."

Pulliam, who will officially begin work as superintendent Feb. 9, was accompanied by assistant superintendents Valya Lee and Jackie Hubbert.

"Her main thrust has been student achievement," Lee said. "That is all she has spoken about since she has been here."

Principals throughout the county were notified Tuesday about the possibility of the new superintendent dropping by for a short visit.

"I'm looking forward to being here on a full-time basis," Pulliam said. "I've seen some good things happening in the Clayton County school system, and I'm not surprised."

Pulliam said she was impressed with the "consistency" of the educational delivery in the schools she visited as well as with the leadership of the schools and those overseeing the leadership of the schools.

"This is just a snapshot, but I picked up on that," she said.

Although interim Superintendent William Chavis is still at the helm and running the school system, Pulliam has been working in another office getting a heads up on taking over as the head of the system.

She was chosen from a national search and picked from a list of 41 applicants. She was superintendent of the St. Louis Park school district in Minnesota. Pulliam is the first female superintendent of Clayton County and only the second black superintendent of the primarily black school system.