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Farmington names new superintendent

The Farmington School District will have their first female superintendent beginning July 1.

Dr. Natalie Thomas was named Thursday morning as the new Superintendent of the Farmington School District. The board voted Tuesday evening during closed session with a 4 to 2 vote for Thomas.

Dr. Thomas is a Co-Superintendent for the Riverview Gardens School District in St. Louis. She is expected to resign her current position and will be in the district off and on throughout the remainder of the year. A formal introduction will be made to the staff after the first of January when school is back in session.

She has an extensive background in education where she has been a teacher, social worker, school psychologist, assistant superintendent and superintendent. She has a Doctorate in Political Science/Public Policy Administration from the University of Missouri, Master of Arts, Political Science from University of Missouri, Master of Social Work from George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Master of Education from Washington University, Certificate of Labor Relations from Cornell University and Clinical Social Worker License from the Department of Healing Arts, State of Missouri.

She maintains relationships with Webster University and Associated Consultants and Therapists where she has led graduate programs for teachers, instituted site-based leadership teams to increase efficiency and improve services for students and staff. She has developed community service projects in areas of need for local children, presented methods and strategies for addressing ethical issues for National Education Association (NEA), Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Division of Family Services (DFS), Department of Mental Health and the Metropolitan Nursing Association.

While the Administrator for Program Evaluation and New Initiatives she also built the capacity for Response to Intervention (RTI) activities within three school districts. Her efforts have resulted in successful intervention strategies and reductions of students requiring special education services.

“We are enthusiastic about Dr. Thomas joining our district. Although the board considered several qualified candidates, Natalie’s strengths align very well with the current needs of our district. Her track record encompasses a strong focus on team building, relationship building with community leaders, news media and school administration.

“She has a reputation for instituting innovative initiatives  and collaborative problem solving while strengthening instructional practices and professional development. Through the leadership of Dr. Thomas, the board is confident that the Farmington R-7 schools will continue to exemplify the deep rooted school traditions and contribute to the rising student achievement expectations that exist today,” said Randy Rains, school board president.

She is very community oriented and it plays a big part of her life. Her career in education has given her the opportunity to dedicate her time in a way that is near and dear to her heart and yet, adds great value to quality of life within a community. She will begin to make visits to the community members throughout the spring semester.

“I have been a great admirer of Farmington and the surrounding area ever since I taught graduate classes at Mineral Area College (MAC) The community’s support for all aspects of the district is impressive. I believe in commitment to education and my focus on the role of education plays in the community matches the quality of characteristics of the Farmington district. I look forward to relocating to the area and becoming a productive member of the community,” said Thomas.

She continued, “Excellent school districts are dependent on excellent relationships among the district leadership and the Board of Education, commitment to outstanding instruction and powerful partnerships with the community. I am excited about the opportunity to serve the students, and Farmington R-7 community as the Superintendent of Schools.”

Interim Superintendent Jerome Watson took over in August after the board cut ties with Superintendent Dr. W. L. Sanders. He came to the district during the 2003-04 school year.

When asked about Watson, Rains said that he has a lot of options right now. The board would love him to go back to the Assistant Superintendent position and remain in the district. The board met with Watson Wednesday evening and talked to the administrators Thursday morning. Following the administrative meeting a district wide e-mail was sent out informing all staff about the new superintendent.

Watson will remain Interim Superintendent until June 30, 2010.

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