Douglas County Schools Superintendent Gordon Pritz was recently selected as one of four finalists for Georgia's 2017 Superintendent of the Year.

"Dr. Pritz has continuously demonstrated effective leadership in the district and our mission to provide a quality education for every student in a safe and supportive environment," said D.T. Jackson, chairman of the Douglas County Board of Education. "As a former teacher of elementary, middle and high school students, he helps our board remain focused on the classroom to provide quality instruction. He has high expectations for students and works diligently to keep students and system staff on track for student success."

Pritz became superintendent in Douglas County in 2010. During his seven years, he has maintained 180 student days and a balanced budget throughout lean financial years, according to a press release from the school system.

Other things the school system highlighted in the press release include science teacher Casey Bethel being named 2017 Georgia Teacher of the Year; being named as one of six school districts in the state to be honored by the College Board with placement on the 6th Annual AP District Honor Roll; all five high schools being named by the Georgia Department of Education as 2016 AP Honor Schools; five elementary schools being awarded for Highest Performing or Greatest Gains on the CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index); an improvement in the 2015 School Climate Star Ratings by the Georgia Department of Education; Lithia Springs High School being named one of seven schools in Georgia to earn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) certification; Jessica Ainsworth being named 2015 National Assistant Principal of the Year; a record number of students (15) selected for the Governor's Honors Program in 2016; a record number of students (4) selected as Gates Millennium Scholars; the school system being named one of the "Best Workplaces" by the Atlanta Journal Constitution for two years; and an improvement in SAT scores for three consecutive years.

While superintendent, Pritz facilitated all five high schools in developing magnet programs. Students from across the county can apply to attend a magnet program at a school inside or outside their district. Magnet programs at the five high school include International Baccalaureate, Fine Arts, Advanced Placement, Liberal Arts College Preparatory, AP Capstone and STEM.

Pritz has also championed two special high school programs. The College and Career Institute (CCI) offers technical college classes to high school students in a half-day program and a full-day option for current 9th and 10th graders. The Performance Learning Center (PLC) offers an alternative to the traditional high school setting. Students attend the PLC full time and learn at their own pace with certified teachers and educational software.

Another initiative undertaken by Pritz is Douglas County's first school-based health center which opened at Burnett Elementary in August 2016. The health center serves students attending Burnett and Eastside Elementary as well as siblings of those students who attend feeder schools and their pre-school age siblings.

Pritz has encouraged teachers and administrators to build relationships with their students and families in order to keep students engaged and on the path to graduation, according to the school system. His belief in building relationships extends to his own involvement in professional associations and the community.

He believes an engaged and supportive community is essential to the success of students and schools. In addition to numerous professional organizations, Pritz's community associations include the Cobb/Douglas Board of Health; Cobb/Douglas Community Services Board; Kiwanis Club of Douglas County; Douglas County Chamber of Commerce (Advisory Board Member and Chairman's Club Member); Douglas County Health Futures Board; Live Healthy Douglas Advisory Board and Douglas County United Way Advisory Board.

Pritz initiated a National Day of Prayer Breakfast for Douglas County through United Way that raises funds and collects shoeboxes of supplies for homeless women and children in the community.

In addition to Douglas County, his previous administrative experience includes: Associate Superintendent/Operational Support, Cobb County School District, 2006-2010; Assistant Superintendent/Operations and Policy Development, Marietta City Schools, 2005-2006; Principal, Marietta High School, 1997-2005; and Assistant Principal/Athletic Director, East Paulding High School, 1995-1997. His teaching experience includes: McEachern High School, 1985-1995; Wheeler High School, 1983-1985; Powers Ferry Elementary School, 1980-1983; Argyle Elementary School, 1977-1979; and Meadowlawn Elementary in Indiana, 1977-1979.

The 2017 Superintendent of the Year will be announced in Atlanta in early December. The winner will advance to the national competition. Other finalists include Dr. Joseph Barrow of Fayette County; Dr. Jason Branch of Oconee County; and Dr. Allen McCannon of Madison County.

A press release from the Douglas County School System was used in this report.

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