Mount Airy City Schools Superintendent Greg Little is leaving after four years in the post for a South Carolina position.
On Thursday night Lexington County School District One named Little as its new superintendent, according to information posted on that school system’s website.
He had gone through an application and interview process there over recent months where he emerged as one of three finalists for the post.
“All three finalists recently spent considerable time touring the district, meeting principals and the senior leadership team, and in meetings with the board,” the website said.
“Although all three finalists were strong candidates, our board believes that Dr. Little is the best fit for Lexington One at this time,” Lexington school board Chair Debra Knight said.
“His educational expertise and experiences will benefit our district as we continue our quest to create college- and career-ready graduates through educational excellence characterized by warm, personalized teaching and learning. The board believes that we have found an outstanding educational leader, and we look forward to continued success with Dr. Little’s leadership.”
Little, 40, said he was told about his selection Thursday night.
“Lexington was a unique opportunity that came out of left field,” he said, noting that the school’s commitment to 21st century skills and second languages were among the reasons he accepted the new position.
“It’s a school system engaged in really exciting ways that is a lot like the work we’ve been doing in Mount Airy.”
That’s a mission he doesn’t expect to end with his departure.
“The future is incredibly bright for Mount Airy City Schools,” he said. “We have one of the best boards in the state if not the best board in the state, whose complete focus is the students. Their leadership and support made me into the superintendent I am today. The people in place are going to take the work we’ve been doing to even greater heights.”
Ben Cooke, a Mount Airy City school board member who heard news of Little’s appointment late Thursday night, said the board hadn’t yet made plans to find a replacement.
“We have not met as a group since the announcement,” Cooke said. “That will all be decided at the Tuesday evening meeting. I’m sure we’ll come out of the meeting with some sort of a plan.”
Little said he is working with the boards of both schools to work out the details of the transition and is not sure when that will take place.
The transition may be facing more obstacles than when then-Superintendent Darrin Hartness left in 2011 because there is no assistant superintendent at this time. Bryan Taylor, a long-time school official and assistant superintendent, was hired by Surry County Schools three weeks ago. Taylor attended the city school board meeting last week to give a final report on some ongoing projects.
“We are truly going to miss Dr. Little,” Cooke said. “He has been wonderful for our schools. There’s going to be big shoes to fill.”
That may be so, but Little said Mount Airy will be an attractive system for any leader.
“They won’t have any problem attracting people of high quality, high caliber,” he said. “They’ll have their pick.”
Cooke noted that the fact that a school system as large as Lexington’s, which he estimated is about 20 times larger than Mount Airy’s, had tapped the administrator reflected positively on the local schools.
“We feel very honored that they recruited him,” he said, noting that Little hadn’t been searching for a new job when approached by Lexington representatives. “That makes us feel a little bit better about losing him.”
Little came to Mount Airy in 2011, when he assumed the position of superintendent on Dec. 1 of that year, replacing Hartness, who left after little more than three years in Mount Airy to become the superintendent of Davie County Schools. The Mount Airy school board chose Little, who was serving as an assistant superintendent in the Roanoke Rapids school system at that time, from among 32 candidates.
“We’re very excited to have Dr. Little join us. His energy, his enthusiasm as well as his expertise set him apart from the other candidates,” Mount Airy Board Chair Wendy Carriker said at the time Little was introduced to the staff in Mount Airy. “We had some excellent candidates to choose from, but he just stood out a little bit above the rest.”
“I want to bring my family to a place that has a rich cultural history centered on family values,” Little, who is married with two children, said at that time of his decision to seek the top school job in Mount Airy. “Relocating to Mount Airy would not only allow me to expand my leadership opportunities, but also meet the needs of my family.”
Facing another move, “It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Little said. “While we’re very excited about moving to Lexington and all the adventures we’re going to have there, we can’t help but be sad to leave behind a place as near and dear to us as Mount Airy.”
About having to fill the position again so quickly, Cooke said, “We obviously don’t like to starting over every four or five years.”
But with a small school system, “we understand that’s the nature of the business.”
Little said his years in the school system have been good ones.
“This has been the best job I’ve ever had. The work we’ve done here has been so exciting. I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing people and the leadership is really unmatched,” he said, noting that in the end, it’s the students who benefit the most.
“I cannot say enough for the teachers and staff who come to work every day for the students in this community. They are absolutely unbelievable.”