The first female superintendent of the East Bernstadt Independent Schools was hired by the board by a unanimous vote in a special called meeting Tuesday night.
Vicki Jones, current principal of Cold Hill Elementary School, was given a four-year contract, signed by Chairman Gene Allen at the Central Office.
“I was hopeful I would be chosen, but I was surprised because there were two other candidates who were very strong,” she said Wednesday. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to join the strong staff at East Bernstadt. I feel like it is a privilege and honor to be working with the East Bernstadt District. My main goal is to help the faculty work on improving the test scores.
“I’m an emotional wreck right now,” she added. “Everybody’s cried. It’s been an emotional day.”
Jones has been principal at Cold Hill since 2003 and was previously assistant principal at London Elementary for two years, Title 1 Resource Teacher for three years at London and Bush, a kindergarten teacher for one year at London, and a primary teacher for eight years at London.
She said she was used to handling a large student body because Cold Hill used to have around 500 children before Wyan-Pine Grove was built, the same amount as East Bernstadt. Cold Hill now has 300 plus students.
Jones holds certifications to serve as superintendent, principal, director of instruction, director of pupil personnel, and teacher.
The board met in closed session for almost three hours before making their decision.
“All three candidates were great and it was awfully hard for me to decide,” Allen said. “We really discussed it and really tried to make a good choice.”
Attorney Larry Bryson said the East Bernstadt Independent School Board was very impressed with the academic record of Jones. While principal at Cold Hill Elementary, the school ranked 89 percent in proficiency in math and 87 percent in reading in 2010. In 2009 Cold Hill was ranked third in the state on CATS assessment of On Demand Writing. Most recently, she had been selected to mentor new principals.
Jones will begin her duties as superintendent of the East Bernstadt School on January 1, replacing Homer Radford who has been in that position for the past 12 and a half years.
“She will have an outstanding student body to work for at a very good place,” Radford said. “She will have excellent community support and excellent parent support, excellent administration, faculty and staff to work with.
“We offered to be of assistance to her during the transition period from now to January 1,” he added, “We are confident she will do an outstanding job and she will help students and the school to achieve at high levels.”
Three candidates out of 17 applications for the position were selected last month by a superintendent screening committee.
The names were revealed at the November board meeting: Jim Meding, who is the current principal and assistant superintendent; Jones; and Walter T. Hulett, who is superintendent of the Knox County schools and a former Laurel County superintendent.
Former superintendent of the school was Ernest Wiggins and before him, R.B. Mason.
East Bernstadt is a school in northern Laurel County for students K-8.