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Our Next Superintendent Dr. Jim Surrency

Dr. James “Jim” Surrency will be sworn in as the new Gilchrist County School Superintendent on November 17, at the School Board Meeting. For the past eight years Robert Rankin has been the Superintendent of Schools but he chose to not seek re-election in 2020.
Dr. Surrency and family first came to Gilchrist County in 1974 to accept a teaching position. He and his wife Connie had grown up in Hawthorne, Florida, so life in Trenton was easy for them to adjust too. He taught Social Studies at Trenton High and coached. Later he became Assistant Principal at THS, working with then Principal John Rutledge. In 1988 he became the school district’s Assistant Superintendent after Carl Williams became the Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Surrency served as the Assistant Superintendent until 2008 when he took a new position as Executive Director of NEFEC, which is a consortium that provides cooperative services to small and rural school districts headquartered in Palatka. After he left NEFEC a few years ago he began working with the Gilchrist County School District as Director of Special Programs.
Dr. Surrency said that he and his wife, Connie were glad to return to Gilchrist County as full time residents. “This is our home, and I wanted to give back to our community though the school district,” Dr. Surrency stated. With his entire career spent in education and working for the past several years in the School District’s Administration, Dr. Surrency is very qualified for the Superintendent position.
Tasked with the job of providing the best education possible for each child attending a Gilchrist County School, Dr. Surrency said he plans to be an approachable Superintendent and stated “I want people to come to me with their concerns.”
Gilchrist County School District has been an A District for the 15 of the last 16 years. But, even with such a good system he said schools are a building process and we don’t want to become complacent.
When asked about Covid-19 and the schools, Dr. Surrency stated, “We have been very blessed with not many cases. We have worked with the Health Department and followed CDC guidelines.” He went on to say that the Health Department has been extremely helpful to their staff. Parents have been very cooperative with all the changes that have been made as we ease back into a normal schedule at school. “Our teacher and students have risen to the occasion.” He went on to say he felt opening the schools so students and teachers could get back into a routine was very important to everyone.
Dr. Surrency expects some challenges ahead for the school district including growth, he expects more families to move into the area. Recruiting good teachers as current teachers retire is a priority as Dr. Surrency moves the school district forward. He also stated he appreciates that the communities in Gilchrist County and how they work hand in hand with the school system. Churches, businesses and citizens have all helped to make the schools and learning opportunities better for students. “What we have in Gilchrist County is special,” said Dr. Surrency.
The Gilchrist County School District has a lot to offer students to help them grow into productive adults according to Dr. Surrency. The Career Tech Programs which include Engineering, Business, Health and the JROTC as well as the Criminal Justice Academy can help students explore possible career choices.
He also went on to speak of the FFA Chapters and how those programs are helping students learn leadership skills that will help students in life. As a former coach Dr. Surrency values the sports programs in the schools which teach students sportsmanship and never quitting as well as a multitude of other life lessons.
There are several big projects on the table at this time including the building of a cafetorium at Trenton High School. The project is said to be over $10 million dollars and will take months to complete. Dr. Surrency said bids on the project have been received and he looks forward to seeing the building project completed.
As the education process moves forward for all the students of Gilchrist County it is comforting for parents and students to have such a steady hand on the wheel. Many citizens believe with challenges like the virus and growth ahead Dr. Surrency will lead our School District ahead steadfastly.