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Sledge wants Clayton Schools' fine arts to 'shine'

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

Clayton County Public Schools' next fine arts leader says her soon-to-be new department already has the talented teachers and students to do well, so all that is needed is the public's attention.

School district Acting Coordinator of Counseling Kay Sledge, a 30-year employee of the school system, is scheduled to become the director of fine arts for Clayton County Public Schools on May 3. She will be the third person to ever oversee fine arts programs for the district, replacing outgoing fine arts leader, Paul Robbins, who is slated to retire on April 30.

Sledge praised Robbins for increasing the number of opportunities students have to showcase their talents, including the county's fine arts magnet high school, the all-county musical, and all-county honor bands, choruses and orchestras. She said she plans to keep all of those programs in place. Her goal is to now make the people of Clayton County more aware that these programs exist.

In other words, her goal is to have sell-out crowds for fine arts performances.

"I was just watching a program on TV the other night where young students from across the Atlanta area were being showcased," she said. "I want to see our students get those same types of opportunities. We already have the program in place to really be known across this area, now we just need to shine it up a bit."

Sledge was appointed to her new position by the Clayton County Board of Education, upon the recommendation of Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley, on April 13.

"She can lead, and she's a visionary," Heatley said on Friday. "We share the same vision for fine arts in this county, and that is, we want it to be second to none."

Sledge said she plans to increase the visibility of fine arts programs by applying to have Clayton County students included in programs that showcase fine arts students, and by increasing the marketing to promote student performances, including the annual all-county, and fine arts magnet high school musicals.

Sledge has already moved into an office at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, and has been working with Robbins to learn the ropes of leading the department. She said she has already begun meeting with fine arts teachers.

Even while being interviewed about her plans for the fine arts department, She moved from talking about her vision, to promoting upcoming student performances taking place in May, including the fine arts magnet high school's performance of "Footloose" (May 13-15), and the All-County Elementary School Chorus concert (May 16).

Sledge's appointment is being met with approval from Robbins. "I was delighted by the decision of the Board of Education, and of the superintendent, to make Kay the director of fine arts," he said. He cited her years of administrative experience, going back more than a decade, as one reason he believes she will do well in the position.

Although Sledge comes into the fine arts department with no previous experience teaching fine arts, she does bring several years of administrative experience, some of which was at the highest levels of the school system's central administration.

She has been the acting coordinator of counseling since last year, but was previously the school system's chief academic officer, the assistant superintendent of middle schools, the principal at Jonesboro Middle School, and an assistant principal at Forest Park High School, Morrow High School and Babb Middle School.

"She brings a wealth of administrative experience to the position," Robbins said. "She actually brings more [administrative] experience in supervising fine arts programs than I had when I took this job. Certainly, having come from an assistant principal's and principal's background, and having been the assistant superintendent of middle schools, and the chief academic officer, she knows how to oversee fine arts programs."