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School chief talks of future

by Gail Marsh

STAFF WRITER

Though Pamela Sumpter-Cain's decision to join the state Board of Education staff will soon leave Harrison County without a superintendent, she believes the county school system will remain in good hands.

"The county has a very progressive, very educated board. They will have no problem attracting a high quality superintendent," Sumpter-Cain said on Friday.

Sumpter-Cain took the Harrison County superintendent's position on July 1, after serving as superintendent in Wirt County since 1996. She replaced former Superintendent Robert E. Kittle, who retired June 30 after heading the school system for 15 years.

The Lewis County native announced Thursday she would accept the position of assistant state superintendent of curriculum and instruction. Sumpter-Cain's doctorate is in curriculum and instruction.

She also has a master's degree in early childhood, and has done graduate work in special education.

She said the state job was an opportunity she could not pass up.

"I'd been approached in the past to come to the state (Board of Education) department, but my children were at home and it was just not the right timing.

"The timing's not great at this point, either, but the position came open and I was once again asked to consider it. In terms of what they were looking for, it seems to be a good match," she said.

Part of Sumpter-Cain's new duties will have her looking into slow performing schools around the state and targeting them for technology assistance.

"My theme here was purposeful leadership for student achievement and that's what I will be focusing on. The state has good, strong leadership and this is a positive chance to work with them," she said.

Sumpter-Cain will not be leaving Harrison County until some time after Labor Day, so she expects no problems with getting the school year up and running.

"Harrison County has strong teachers and administrators and the support of the community can't be matched anywhere in the state. One of the hardest things about leaving this area is the way I was welcomed here with open arms," she said.

Harrison County school board members have not had the chance to meet since Thursday's announcement, and Board President Sally J. Cann said no decisions have been made as to whether an interim superintendent will be appointed.

"At this point in time we've made no plans to appoint an acting superintendent or to begin the hiring process again. We'll be talking about those issues during our regular board meeting on Tuesday," Cann said.

Cann said she's disappointed the new superintendent has decided to leave, but said she feels that "the state realized, like we did, what a good employee she would be."

"This has all been pretty sudden, so we'll just have to go with the flow and depend on the her leadership for now. We don't expect any problems whatsoever as she'll be here to provide leadership for the new school year," Cann said.

Staff writer Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447.

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