By David Meade
Anderson School District 3 recently named Dr. Mason Gary as their next superintendent.
Dr. Gary was selected to fill the position after a month long interview and hiring process by the Iva-based school district to find a replacement for Superintendent Gail Southard.
Southard recently announced she is resigning the position she has held since 2009. Gary will begin his term as District 3 Superintendent with the 2012-13 school year.
Dr. Gary said he was not actively looking to make a change from the position he currently holds as principal at Palmetto High School, but saw an opportunity to meet one of his educational career goals with the District 3 opening.
“I was not looking for the District 3 superintendent position when the opportunity came open,” he said “ I was still very happy as a principal.” Gary has been involved in education for 23 years, serving as a teacher, coach and administrative assistant at BHP, then as assistant principal and principal at Palmetto Middle School and currently as principal at Palmetto High, where has served for 13 years.
Gary said if the superintendent position had not been available, he would remain at Palmetto. “It is where I would want to be.”
Dr. Gary said that when he received his doctorate eight years ago, one of his professional goals was to eventually be a school superintendent.
“When the opportunity came to meet with them about the position, I thought about it,” he said, “It came about. It was the right move for me to do. I have very mixed emotions.”
Dr. Gary said that of his eighteen years as an educator in School District One, thirteen have been as principal at Palmetto High. While there he hired eighty-four percent of the teachers.
“It was like the death of a family member telling them there would be an opening,” he said. “It was very emotional.”
Dr. Gary said his involvement in School District One has prepared him to meet the challenges of being a school superintendent and he believes that background will allow him to make a positive difference in District Three.
Gary praised Anderson School District One and said that being in a quality school district like Anderson 1 helped prepare him for the position.
“From the board to the kids, Anderson One are quality people,” he said. “I am proud to have been a part of it.”
Gary said that he has invested eighteen years as an educator to make things better. “I think we have.”
“District One is top notch,” he said. “The character, work ethic, and the kids have been wonderful”
Looking forward, Dr. Gary said there is opportunity at Anderson School District 3.
“One of the strengths is that it is a small district with three elementary, one middle and one high school,” he said. “It is about the same size as the Palmetto area schools.”
Gary said the size of the District will allow him to get to know everyone involved in the educational process and to build relationships with them to better educate students.
“It is about the relationships you build with people,” he said. “It gives me the opportunity to get a common goal and vision, for each school, and moving and working together to do that.”
Gary said that the size of the District offers the opportunity to build on one strong group working together with one feeder group, something larger school districts lack.
He acknowledged money as a challenge but stressed that a key for him is in building the relationships. He said he plans to put some things in place that will benefit the rural school district. “Working in Anderson District One has trained me.”
He said the staff development programs offered in District One have been very helpful. “I am very grateful. District One has allowed to grow as a professional and I hope to bring that to Anderson District 3.”
Gary said that one of the highlights of being a teacher, coach and administrator, is watching students learn and grow.
“That’s the part that is so gratifying,” he said. “How the students have done, and have grown up, to invest back.”