Different directions

School board opts for new leadership; superintendent still is man on a mission

Frank G. Roberson was the right man for the job when he was hired to oversee the Richmond County School System in 2010.

At the end of this school year, the two are parting ways.

On Monday, the Richmond County Board of Education voted to let Dr. Roberson’s contract expire in August as the board launches a search for a new schools chief.

Board members who cast the 8-1 vote declined to comment on how they arrived at their decision.

Just six months after being named superintendent, Dr. Roberson suffered from arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal clustering of blood vessels on the brain. Emergency surgery at Georgia Regents Health System saved his life.

He spent the next 19 months recovering, returning to work part time in December 2011 and full time in September 2012. The school board was beyond patient and compassionate in keeping Dr. Roberson on as long as it did.

Now it appears Augusta will never know just how far Dr. Roberson could channel his recovery into improving Richmond County schools. While he is eligible to reapply for his job, he has chosen not to.

But he’s also choosing to continue his work as an educator.

“There’s a lot in me to do the work of educating children,” Dr. Roberson told The Chronicle after Monday’s meeting. “That’s my passion. There’s too much in me to stop now. I’ll have to survey my options, but I do know this: I will continue to provide quality schooling for children somewhere.”

He started that mission in 1979 in nearby Ridge Spring, S.C., teaching American history. We sincerely hope he shares his deep commitment to education far into the future.

Dr. Roberson, you see, gets it.

As superintendent, he refocused local discussion from fretting about SAT scores to concentrating on pupils’ best interests. He knows that not every kid is cut out for four years of college, and he sent the message throughout the school district that kids shouldn’t be pushed toward that end. Don’t set up kids for failure when they can thrive elsewhere.

Dr. Roberson also imparted a passion for parental involvement, knowing that is a crucial key to student success.

Dr. Roberson has started moving Richmond County schools in a positive direction. It’s up to the next superintendent to seize on that momentum.

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