WINDER - Barrow County Superintendent Ron Saunders said he is thrilled and humbled to be the 2008 Georgia Superintendent of the Year.
Saunders was selected by the Georgia School Superintendents Association, and the announcement was made Friday at an awards luncheon in Atlanta.
Under Saunders' leadership, the school system has dramatically increased its teacher retention rate, drastically reduced its student dropout percentage and increased the professional learning opportunities for teachers almost tenfold, according to the Georgia School Superintendents Association.
Saunders was praised for his "servant attitude," for "giving of himself beyond the call of duty" and for the role he played in bringing together the Board of Education and County Commission for the betterment of their community, a news release states.
"I was completely surprised by it because the other three finalists are so worthy and well-respected," Saunders said. "I'm honored. I hope to do my best to represent the state of Georgia and the superintendents of Georgia."
The other finalists were Henry County Superintendent Jack Parish, Floyd County Superintendent Kelly Henson and Forsyth County Superintendent-elect L.C. "Buster Evans.
Saunders will represent the state in the competition for the National Superintendent of the Year award, which will be presented in February in Tampa, Fla.
The Barrow County Board of Education unanimously nominated Saunders for the state award because of his leadership in teacher and student learning, teacher recruitment and retention, and partnership development, according to Barrow County Schools.
While student achievement and student safety are the top priorities of the school district, Saunders said he thinks community involvement is important in developing a good school system. He said he has developed partnerships with universities and businesses to help the district provide a world-class education and hometown values.
Saunders has a doctorate degree from the University of Alabama. He has served as superintendent of Barrow County Schools since 1998.