By Curt Yeomans
The Clayton County Board of Commissioners welcomed Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley to the area on Thursday with a reception at the Charlie Griswell Senior Center, and a pledge to stand behind the school district's new leader.
"We are here because we recognize the village must come together to raise the children," said BOC Vice Chairman Wole Ralph. "We must support Dr. Heatley as he strengthens and leads our school system for the children of this county."
"We are united behind him in this Herculean effort he has undertaken to bring this school system towards excellence," added BOC Chairman Eldrin Bell.
Heatley, a retired U.S. Marine, officially took the helm of Clayton County Public Schools, as its superintendent, on July 1. Prior to his arrival in Clayton County, he led the Chino Valley Unified School District in California, for four years.
The reception was attended by several elected officials and community leaders, including state senators and representatives, local judges, law enforcement officials, county department heads, officials from Clayton State University, religious leaders, and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) leaders. Several school system employees also attended.
Also among the BOC members in attendance, were Sonna Singleton and Gail Hambrick.
Clayton County Board of Education Chairperson Alieka Anderson, Vice Chairperson Ophelia Burroughs, and board members, Pamela Adamson, Mary Baker and Charlton Bivins, were also present. While introducing the school board members, Singleton said they, too, should be honored, "because they brought Dr. Heatley to Clayton County."
Anderson then introduced Heatley by saying the school board members believe they "have not found a good superintendent, but an excellent superintendent."
During his remarks, Heatley took aim at a comment made by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) officials in a February 2008 report on the district, in which the school system was called "a ship without a rudder in dangerous waters."
He said times have changed, and referenced his training as a U.S. Marine. "The ship has a rudder, now," Heatley said. "Failure is not an option. Marines don't get into anything to finish second. We're going to be on top."