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Dougherty's new assistant school superintendent is a home-grown 'professional'

Photo by Joe Bellacomo

Photo by Joe Bellacomo

ALBANY, Ga. -- Some educators were born to teach. They realize it early in their lives, and it's all they ever want to do.

Kenneth Goseer is not one of those educators.

Shortly after graduating Monroe High School in 1968, the National Merit semifinalist and Albany native landed a job at Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. in his hometown. During his 16-year career with Firestone, Goseer managed to complete requirements for a bachelor of science degree in science education at Albany State University.

Little did he know when he graduated from ASU in 1976 that degree would come in handy a decade down the road.

When the Firestone plant shut down, Goseer landed a position teaching high school science and coaching basketball, football and swimming at his alma mater. That position started a climb up the education ladder that culminated in October when Goseer was named assistant superintendent for the Dougherty County School System.

And while many in a community still reeling from the process that saw Albany State University administrator Joshua Murfree ascend to the superintendent's position claimed that the hiring of Goseer was an act of nepotism, the people who know the amiable and low-key Goseer best for his behind-the-scenes work during his career say Murfree could not have made a better choice.

"Y'all got a good man down there," said Melton Callahan, the executive director of the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals who hired Goseer as an assistant principal at Colquitt County High School in 1997. "Kenneth has a unique knack for dealing with kids, parents and teachers in a professional, noncombative way.

"He brings a lot to the table, and one of the best things I can tell you about him is that you can count on him never embarrassing you in public. The guy's a professional; he's always where he's supposed to be when he's supposed to be there."

As the Dougherty school system's assistant superintendent, Goseer will concentrate primarily on four areas: athletics, transportation, the system's police department and school safety.

"We're working to get all the bus routes on GPS, and we're working to increase economic efficiency in our transportation department," Goseer said. "Coordinating bus routes is no easy task, and there are going to be problems regardless of what we do. But we're trying to be as efficient as we can.

"I feel we're fortunate to have a very capable and able police chief; I'm very confident in the way Chief (Troy) Conley operates the department. It's unfortunate, but in today's society a school police department is a necessary entity. It's like the (hostage) situation up in Wisconsin last week. We think it'll never happen, but we have to be prepared. No cost can be placed on a child or employee's life."

Goseer said his background as a coach during his 10-year tenure at Monroe will help him deal with athletics issues in the county.

"I firmly believe you have to be involved in athletics to understand the complexities of the sports our students participate in," he said. "There is a tremendous cost involved, but I think the value to our kids is worth that cost. A lot of students would never get past middle school if our high schools didn't have athletic teams.

"I think we have the right coaches in place to turn our football programs in the county around, but anyone who's lived here any amount of time knows Albany is a basketball town. It just is. The school system is providing the equipment and the facilities at all of our schools to give (the football teams) a better chance to succeed. We all know that winning cures a lot of ills."

After his stint at Monroe, Goseer was an assistant principal at Colquitt County High for four years before serving principalships at Worth County High School (2001-2003), Pelham City Middle School (2003-2004) and Terrell County Middle School (2004-2010).

He's served as state coordinator for the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals and was president of that organization -- which has the state's largest administrative membership with more than 1,200 members -- from 2004-2007. Goseer also was the Georgia representative to the National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

Even while he's worked at schools in the surrounding area, Goseer has lived in Albany, a fact that he says is a benefit as he's settled into his new position.

"Without a doubt, one of the biggest things I have in my favor is that Albany has always been home," he said. "I was born and raised here, educated here and I've worked in this school system."

The new assistant superintendent said even though he's only been on the job since Nov. 1, he's come to appreciate in a short amount of time his boss' leadership ability.

"I feel extremely good about the direction the school system is heading in under Dr. Murfree," he said. "He's a very charismatic leader, and he has the pulse of the school system beating in his wrist. I'm impressed; I feel our system will take its place among the top echelon of (systems in) the state and nation under his guidance."

Murfree did not respond to a request seeking comment for this article.

One former superintendent of the system -- John Culbreath -- did take the time to talk about his former student, and he spoke highly of Goseer.

"No one will work harder, and no one will be more dedicated," Culbreath said. "I had him as a student in education leadership classes (at ASU), and he was an exemplary student. He applied himself and bonded with his classmates.

"As he settles into his new position, I give him the same advice I've always given my classes, advice that Norman Schwarzkopf gave that became my mantra: If you've been placed in a leadership position, take charge and do right."

Doing right in Georgia schools has become something of a tough proposition for educators, given the billions of dollars in budget cuts that schools have operated under over the last several years.

"It's gotten to the point that it's just devastatingly sad," Goseer said. "(State Legislators) have asked Georgia schools to do more with less to the point of poverty. It's almost unimaginable what educators have to deal with. They're being forced to short-change our students.

"I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel at this point. It's amazing that our schools are still able to function at a high level. Until our leaders realize that educators are the lifeblood, the foundation and the backbone of this country's success -- and pay them accordingly -- our state will struggle. No other profession is left out in the cold like educators."