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New super’s focus is 2020

Shannon Driver knows he has big shoes to fill as the new superintendent of Covington County Schools.

After all, it’s a role held by his father and two others who have worked to make the system one of the most financially sound in the state.

In May, Driver was among a five-member candidate pool, which also included Florala High School principal Donny Powell and Pleasant Home principal Craig Nichols. Prior to becoming superintendent, Driver served Straughn High School principal since 2007.

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Over the weekend, Driver moved from his office in Straughn to the new one on the hill at the central office. And while the walls are still blank, Driver’s notebook of ideas isn’t.

Monday marked his first day on the job.

“I know I’ve got some big shoes to fill, because there is a long line of good superintendents for this system,” Driver said.

Right now, Driver is worried about transition, he said, but it’s not his transition into the job. It’s the system’s transition to the Alabama 2020 plan. Described as a “the strategic plan for education in Alabama, the plan looks to make significant, measurable progress in education by the year 2020 by improving student growth and achievement, closing the achievement gap, increasing the graduation rate, and increasing the number of students graduating high school who are college- and career-ready and prepared to be successful in today’s global society.

“And that’s going to take a lot of work,” Driver said. “Considering this year alone, we’re starting the school year with eight new administrators. We have to familiarize ourselves with what is required of us and then focus on how we implement that in the classroom.”

To do that, Driver said he plans to focus on developing positive student-teacher relationships.

“I want to get these teachers what they need to do their job inside the classroom, so we can make sure that everything is there for a positive educational experience,” he said.

Driver said he is continuing the planned implementation of additional security features on campuses countywide.

Also on the horizon is developing a plan to provide electronic textbooks to students. Driver said within two to five years, that project will be a reality.

“And it’s also a sign that education is changing, and we have to adapt,” he said. “I don’t want to be a complacent superintendent. I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel, and for some things, if it works, it works.

“I’m about doing things the most efficient way we can,” he said. “With that said, I don’t think of myself as an innovator. I want to continue the same mark of tradition and excellence that this system is known for.”

School resumes Aug. 19, and until then, Driver and the staff are working diligently.

“Every superintendent is faced with their own separate set of challenges,” he said. “For me, I think that’s going to the Alabama 2020 plan. I want to be able to address those challenges and maintain the traditional of who we are. We can’t live in the past, but we can learn from it.”