Hooker’s homecoming

A crowd of Clarke County School District employees, parents, students and other curious members of the Athens community gathered into the Vernon Payne Meeting Hall of the Clarke County School district administration office on Aug. 28 to meet the sole finalist for CCSD superintendent Dr. Robbie Hooker. 

The “meet and greet” event consisted of a formal address from Hooker followed by time for attendees to make personal introductions.

“I’m here today because I want to share my vision for this district, and you must understand that I can’t do this work alone,” Hooker said. 

Hooker spent time in various positions throughout Clarke County including principal of Clarke Central High School before leaving in 2016 to serve as the superintendent of Social Circle Schools. He was accompanied at the event by his wife Karen and two adult children Kaitlyn and Jonathon Hooker.

CCSD school board president and Dr. Lakeisha Gantt (District 7) opened the event and introduced Hooker. 

“This event feels like a homecoming in many ways,” Gantt said. “We are former colleagues and I will say that he is one of the strongest leaders I’ve worked with, so it really is an honor to have Hooker and his family back here.”

SUPER INTENTIONS: School board representatives (left to right) Nicole Hull, Kirrena Gallagher, Dr. Mumbi Anderson, and Dr. Patricia Yager sit and listen to Dr. Robbie Hooker’s prepared remarks at a scheduled meet-and-greet event on Aug. 28. The board is scheduled to vote on Sept. 1 to officially hire Hooker to become the new CCSD superintendent. “If you see any high performing school district, it involves the entire community. It’s not one person, the entire community that takes hold of this vision and moves forward,” Hooker said at the event. Photo by Isabella Morgan.

During Hooker’s address he shared his vision for a more equitable, inclusive and community based Clarke County School District. 

“I believe if we work together, this can be the best district, not only in northeast Georgia but in the state of Georgia,” Hooker said. 

Emphasizing the importance of having a presence in schools and throughout the Athens community, Hooker encouraged attendants to purchase athletic shoes because of the increased amount of time to be spent in service at the schools.  

“My expectation for district office personnel is that two or three days a week you should be in somebody’s (school) building, assisting teachers,” Hooker said. 

Hooker also shared the importance of religion in his life, citing his church as where he began his own leadership journey. 

“I look forward to starting a faith based initiative with our ministers. No matter what faith you may be, all of us have a role to play in our community,” Hooker said.

Flodine Kialeuka attends Timothy Baptist Church with Hooker and felt welcomed by him when she first moved to Georgia. She attended the event in support and as a CCSD parent and educator. 

“I’ve been an admirer of Hooker’s leadership and he’s just excelled on so many different levels,” Kialuka said. 

Near the end of his speech Hooker shared a metaphor comparing the school district to a business and students to customers.

“Clarke County School district will become five star servers to all of our customers,” Hooker said. 

Leigh Alkins, the mother of a Chase Street Elementary student, attended the meeting out of curiosity.

“I’m very excited about what he had to say. I think he knows the district and is willing to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly and tackle the issues,” Alkins said. 

Alkins spent several years on the Chase Street Elementary school governance team which fanned her interest in the school district and its leadership. 

“I think that he sees this as coming home, and I think when you come home to a place there’s more pressure on you and you want to reach even higher than the expectations,” Alkins said. 

Clarke Middle School eighth grader Conner Dyckman attended the event with his mother Dr. Kara Dyckman, CCSD Board of Education  District 9. 

”I really like what he said about teacher support,” Conner Dyckman said. “I thought he was really cool and I think he’ll bring good changes to our school district.” 

Ikeoluwa Ojo

Senior Ikeoluwa Ojo is the News Editor during her third year with BluePrints. She is interested in pursuing a career in Childhood Education, social work or law. Ojo is well rounded within the school with activities such as volleyball and co-founding of the Minority Excellence club. She also enjoys art in her free time. This year she hopes to create more stories that students find interesting as she appreciates the fast pace of the journalism class.

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