The news came during a called Floyd County Board of Education meeting on Monday morning.
McDaniel, who has served as chief of academics for the past three years, has been with the school system since 2003. During that time, he also served as executive director of curriculum as well as director of school improvement.
“I’m just very honored, very humbled to be selected,” McDaniel said during an interview following the announcement. “Obviously, this is a great community, great school system, fantastic people. Our business leaders are phenomenal and I’m just so excited about staying and being a part of just a wonderful community.”
Superintendent Lynn Plunkett said during the board meeting that she couldn’t be happier about the board’s decision to hire McDaniel as her successor. For the past five years, she said, the school system has been very dear to her as though it were her child.
“You know I’m so proud of you,” she told an ecstatic McDaniel. “I have to tell you, when you give your daughter away in marriage, it’s kind of like this … (grimace) … But I feel very comfortable in giving my child to you.”
Johnson told the packed boardroom that the past few strenuous months were well worth it, as the board is confident they chose the best candidate for the position.
“Jeff interviewed very well and we’re looking forward to him doing a fantastic job in continuing to promote Floyd County Schools and I know he will.”
Chairman George Bevels echoed Johnson’s sentiments, adding that he was certain McDaniel would go above and beyond the call of duty.
“When we started looking for a new superintendent, we talked about finding somebody who could take us to the next level and we found that person,” Bevels said. “We look forward to working with you.”
McDaniel said he is excited about bringing some fresh ideas to the table while upholding the school system’s emphasis on academic excellence.
“We’re going to stay focused on continuous improvement; we really are keeping things moving forward,” he said. “The past administration has done a phenomenal job laying down a foundation and we’re going to stay with our values, we’re going to stay with our beliefs, we’re going to cherish our personnel, really work hard for the kids, improve the graduation rate, keep that moving forward.”
Thrilled to be working for a charter school system, McDaniel said the community-centered approach is what will make his new job all the more enjoyable.
“Charter means community involvement and community awareness and getting them involved and ready to help us make good decisions,” he said. “We’re going to keep that moving forward at high levels and take these local school governance teams and take this central office governance team and keep getting input, suggestions, ideas, working with them as a collective group, so that this truly remains a community based school system. That’s very, very important to me.”
McDaniel said it was the spirit of the charter system that embodied the many different combined efforts that make Floyd County Schools outstanding.
“I’m so excited about that aspect and I love how charter just brings all those aspects to the table,” he said. “This chair is bigger than one person, the superintendent’s chair, it’s an important position, please, don’t get me wrong, but it’s bigger than that. If you’re going to strive for continuous improvement, everybody has to pull together to get that done.”
While Plunkett’s leadership skills have been imperative to the board throughout her term, McDaniel said he would take on the position as superintendent with his own style.
“She speaks very strongly to ‘Jeff, don’t come in as a mini Dr. Plunkett, you come in as Jeff. You have your character, your ideas, your suggestions,’” he said. “It’s just so humbling to grab her coattails and watch her operate. I am so fortunate of all the great leaders in the past who have helped me get to this position. They’ve known that I’ve aspired to do this, they have embraced that and there are a lot of great leaders out there.”
McDaniel said he is delighted to be working closely with state Superintendent John Barge, Chief Academic Officer Mike Buck and Chief of Staff Joel Thornton at the Georgia Department of Education.
“Dr. Barge is a phenomenal man, I’ve listened, I’ve been inspired by him; he is just a wonderful, wonderful individual,” McDaniel said. “I tell the state all the time and they agree and they tell us too, we’re all in this thing together. They want us to come to the table with the Dr. Barges and the Mike Bucks or the Joel Thorntons and sit down and have productive conversations and we really enjoy when they ask for our input.”
He said it was that tightly knitted, professional relationship that keeps driving Floyd County Schools to be an example for other school systems across the state.
“We have to come to the table every day with these guys and it’s all for the benefit of children,” he said. “So when you’ve got that going on, it’s easy to sit down with John Barge and talk about kids and his passion and the direction he’s moving the state in; we’re all on board with that. And I just hope I can do a good job to help him reach his ultimate goal for the state of Georgia.”