Board removes interim tag, appoints Goodman as superintendent

Goodman signs 4-year contract

By Kevin Spradlin

HAMLET — While Dr. Cindy Goodman was principal at Laurel Hill Elementary School in neighboring Scotland County, she traveled to Houston, Tampa, Fla., and Washington D.C. to represent a team of dedicated professionals that had been honored for a job well done.

Dr. Cindy Goodman

Dr. Cindy Goodman

On Tuesday, the Richmond County Board of Education ensured the ringleader of that group will stick around Richmond County for some time to come as board members stripped the interim tag off Goodman’s position as temporary superintendent and made the appointment a permanent one.

Goodman signed a four-year contract good through June 30, 2018, at an annual salary of $144,000. She beat out the only other finalist, Dr. Rick Watkins. Goodman will be sworn into her new position at noon on Wednesday at the board’s administrative office complex in Hamlet.

Board members modified the agenda that had been distributed to media outlets and to the public prior to the meeting in order to make the announcement of Goodman’s appointment at the start of the meeting. Board member Dr. Irene Aiken was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Watkins, the former associate superintendent of personnel and Hamlet Middle School principal and now an assistant professor of education at Wingate University, left shortly after the announcement was made.

Goodman is the first Richmond Senior High School graduate, and first female, to hold the position. Goodman, 53, was appointed to the position in an interim capacity on June 26. She and former Hamlet Middle School Principal Dr. Rick Watkins were the two finalists for the spot. Goodman was previous assistant superintendent for curriculum and human resources.

Shortly after the conclusion of the meeting, Goodman made way for her new office — one that she’s been reluctant to work from since she was appointed as interim superintendent.

“The contract is signed,” said Goodman, displaying the document on which the ink had barely dried. “It’s a done deal. I’m excited.”

Goodman called Watkins a friend and said he was a very qualified candidate for the job. She noted that while she had remained in public education throughout her career, Watkins had detoured into private education at Wingate University. Maybe it was a difference for board members, she said. Maybe it wasn’t.

Only when asked, Goodman took time to note her some of her career accomplishments. She said an accomplishment she holds in high esteem is the earning of the North Carolina REAL D.E.A.L. Award, which is based largely on the feedback from teachers in an anonymous survey — read: a chance to get back at the boss.

One hundred percent of the school’s teachers responded, privately, to the survey. The feedback indicated teachers were happy, there was mutual respect and a determination to make the best of available resources for the benefit of the students.

And Goodman wasn’t surprised.

“I knew it was a great place to work,” she said.

She hopes to instill a similar, positive culture at Richmond County Schools. Some buildings, Goodman acknowledged, might already have such an atmosphere in place.

To be sure, there are challenges within the school district but Goodman said a positive attitude is key. Teacher recruitment remains a priority — “at this point, we’re probably down to fewer than 20 vacancies … we’re going to be ready for the school year” — but that’s not the only area of concern.

First and always, Goodman said, student achievement will be on the front burner. But if that’s Plan A, then Plan 1A will focus on improving student attendance.

“We’ve had some issues” in that area, Goodman said. She suggested a task force could be created to begin to address the problem.

Goodman talked about building “school culture” within each facility.

“We can’t control Raleigh,” Goodman said of the state legislature, or how or when or if teachers get pay raises or even class size, to a large degree. The focus, then, should be on what Richmond County Schools can control.

While leaving the office late Tuesday, Goodman said she thought about sleeping in and arriving later than usual on Wednesday. That was a fleeting thought, and she knew it’d set the wrong example.

“I’ll be here with bells on,” she said, speaking of the start of the staff professional development session that is to begin at 8:30 a.m.


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