Last week was a bit of a tumultuous one for the Athens City Schools Board of Education, but new interim superintendent Beth Patton says she's ready to do whatever is needed for her community and its schools.
After all, it's not just where she lives and works; it's where she was taught and where she has taught others. The Athens High and Athens State graduate started working with Athens City Schools as a teacher 29 years ago.
Since then, she's worked as an Athens High assistant principal and filled several roles at the central office before becoming assistant superintendent in 2019. When superintendent Trey Holladay was placed on leave following an FBI visit to his home, the board unanimously agreed Patton should take over in his absence.
“I am very happy to step up and do whatever the system needs me to,” she said. “I went to school at Athens, and this school system and community are very important to me.”
While suddenly being named acting superintendent may have come as a bit of a shock, Patton said her change in position “really hasn't” changed much for her so far.
“We work as such a team here at Athens City Schools,” she said. “Of course, we are concerned about about (Holladay) and we're praying for him, but we are staying focused on the students and working as hard as we can.”
Patton said she feels “very honored” to have been selected to take over as acting superintendent.
“I have had so many people reach out to me, students, teachers and parents,” she said. “They have been so supportive, and that means a lot to me. I'm going to keep doing the best I can for Athens City Schools in whatever role I'm in.”
Patton said the first thing she hopes to accomplish as acting superintendent is to help put a plan in place for how students will return to the classroom this fall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines.
“We want to make sure our students are learning and great instruction is taking place,” she said.
Patton also mentioned the building project for the new Athens Elementary School and working to get it completed.
“The area for the new school is cleared and is ready for a school to be there,” she said. “We want to focus on getting it built, and that will help us with anticipated growth (in the city).”