By Alex Saitta
April 28, 2014
Whenever I write a letter to the editor, the first draft is quite long, usually longer than most papers will publish. This was the first draft of the letter I wrote concerning the recent selection of a new Superintendent. This was published in one paper. Other papers published the second version (shorter) and others published the third version (even shorter).
On April 10th, in a 6 to 0 vote the Pickens County School Board named Dr. Danny Merck the new Superintendent. Some asked why didnít the school board implement a thorough search/ selection process, examining many applicants, doing interviews, and then making a selection? Actually, we did all that, but some may not realize it because the process that resulted in the selection of Dr. Merck began years ago.
The last few years, the board has focused on promoting from within, beit for assistant principals, principals, department heads and Superintendent. Our district has a winning academic culture, being in the top 15 in the state. Those who spend years in our system and then are promoted to management are most likely to preserve that culture. Also we want to show employees, if they work hard, better their skills and perform well, they will be recognized and promoted, maybe even to Superintendent one day.
In 2009, the board did a wide search interviewing many then and current principals along with Dr. Henry Hunt who was an administrator in the district office. In 2009, the board chose Dr. Hunt as Superintendent.
As Dr. Hunt neared retirement, thinking ahead, we sought out and promoted Dr. Kelly Pew to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Dr. Merck to Assistant Superintendent of Administration. Dr. Hunt and the board realized Pew and Merck were superintendent material and would be ready for the job if they furthered/ added district office experience.
Under Dr. Huntís guidance, both Dr. Pew and Dr. Merck sharpened their skills and were readied for job. In 2012, Pew and Merck underwent a thorough Superintendent selection/ interview process. Both were top notch and Dr. Pew was named Superintendent. Pew performed very well in the job, and sheíll do as well in Rock Hill and part of that will be due to the experience and opportunities she was given here in Pickens County.
Dr. Merck, being prepared and vetted, was the natural choice to succeed Pew and become the next Superintendent. We are confident he will do just as well. Among his many skills and traits, Dr. Merck is an outstanding administrator, has a strong grasp of the challenges public education faces, and has a keen sense for building community relationships.
I credit Dr Hunt and my fellow trustees for thinking years ahead on this, pulling it all together, and making the selection of Dr. Merck a natural, smooth and easy one.