Barrow County Superintendent Wanda Creel has been announced as the sole finalist for the Gainesville City Schools superintendent position, replacing the retiring Merrianne Dyer.
“The board thoroughly reviewed the applications and conducted a number of interviews,” school board member Sammy Smith said, “and now arrives at the person best qualified to lead the school system.”
Creel, 50, is one of “about 26” applicants for the position, Smith said. The position was formally posted in September after Dyer announced she would retire at the end of this school year.
Vice-Chairwoman Delores Diaz said Creel has “numerous” qualities that made her stand out.
“She has experience at all levels of education, from the classroom all the way up to the state department of education,” Diaz said. “As a superintendent, she has worked to help improve the Barrow County system tremendously.”
Prior to her role in Barrow County, Creel was the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for the Houston County Board of Education. She was employed by the Georgia Department of Education from 2005-2008, first as the director of the school improvement division and then as associate state superintendent for school improvement services.
She graduated from Columbus State University in Columbus in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in music education as well as in performance. She received her doctorate in education from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., in 2004.
Creel also is active in YMCA, Boy Scouts of America, Barrow Economic Development Council, Rotary Club, Adult Literacy Coalition and the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Council.
“I am honored to have been named as the finalist for Gainesville City School superintendent position,” Creel said in an official statement. “(It’s) an outstanding district that is steeped in a tradition of excellence while being focused on inspiring, nurturing, challenging and preparing students for their future.”
Creel has been with Barrow County since 2010. The school system had transitioned to charter status under Creel’s leadership. Both Diaz and Smith said her experience in that area was a plus for Gainesville, which is also a charter system.
“There is (also) the familiarity (of being) geographically next door,” Smith added. “It came to us very, very clearly that she was passionate and progressive and wanted this position.”
The decision was announced following a called Friday meeting of the board.
“We will continue negotiations with Dr. Creel over a period of two weeks,” Diaz explained. “It is our hope to make a formal announcement at our Jan. 6 meeting if we can reach an agreement with Dr. Creel as to the terms of employment.
“If all goes well, we hope to work out a transition plan with her, understanding she is still employed with Barrow County and we’ll have to work out her transition from them to us over the next few months.
“She is very familiar with us and I think the transition will be rather smooth,” Diaz added.