The Clayton County Board of Education has appointed an interim school superintendent after Dr. Morcease Beasley announced he would be stepping down. Beasley’s last day is Friday.

As of Saturday, December 17, Dr. Anthony W. Smith will head the school system for one year. Smith is deputy superintendent of governmental relations, partnerships, grants, and operations. He also is a board member of Elite Scholars Academy and Rainbow House.

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The board voted to approve Beasley’s separation agreement and to appoint Smith as interim superintendent at its December 5 meeting:

On December 13, The Clayton County School Board Vice-President Benjamin Straker announced Smith’s appointment through a social media video on its YouTube channel, adding that the board would be looking for a new permanent superintendent during the coming year:

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“Dr. Smith has been a part of the Clayton County Public School community for more than two decades,” Straker said. “He has served in various leadership roles, including teacher, coach, principal, assistant superintendent, chief academic officer, and most recently deputy superintendent. The board believes Dr. Smith’s skills, leadership, and experience were closely aligned with the needs and the priorities of Clayton County Public Schools. In addition, he is revered in the community for his active role in assisting the needs of students and families.”

According to his bio on CCPS’ website, Smith served in the United States Air Force for nine years. After three years in the banking business, he taught computer technology at CCPS. Four years later, he was made assistant principal of Starr’s Mill High School in Fayette County. Then, he served in various administrative capacities at CCPS schools, including as a middle school assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal. He then moved to the Central Office, serving as assistant superintendent of schools, area superintendent, and deputy superintendent.

Smith holds a bachelor of science in business management from Granite State College, a master of science in business education from Southern New Hampshire University, a master of science on educational leadership from Jackson State University, an Ed.S. in educational leadership from Columbus State University, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership from Georgia Southern University.

CCPS Board Chair Jessie Goree said, “I will need to practice saying Dr. Anthony Smith or Dr. Smith because I refer to him as Anthony. Anthony’s so friendly, personable, kind-hearted, congenial, always willing to lend a helping hand, generous, open to suggestion, intelligent, easy on the eyes, thought-provoking, a visionary, but most importantly, he loves children. He has 53,000 he works for every day.”

Goree, who brought her Bible to the podium at the School Board, said, “As I stand before you, I’m armed with the Word of God—I actually have this in the middle in my favorite passage, Psalms 90:1, in my battle-tested Bible. And while I have a phrase, I want you to know that Dr. Anthony Smith is battle-tested. He started off his battle as the middle child of five boys. Can you imagine five boys going to the table to eat any meal? He was a young Black man in Atlanta Public Schools. He was a member of the Air Force. A college student. A man trying to find his way and make a way in the United States. He’s been battle-tested in the classroom. Battle-tested in the sports world. Battle-tested as an AP [assistant principal]. Battle-tested as a principal. Battle-tested as an academic officer. Battle-tested as an assistant superintendent. Battle-tested as an area superintendent. Battle-tested as deputy superintendent. And now, as the superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools, battle-ready. I am happy to present to you a man who has let the Lord direct his path.”

She added that “the most trying part of his task” Smith faces will be “the nine board members he has to deal with at every meeting. But he is ready for the challenge.

“And just as we see geese flying in the air, and you see them in the form of a V, we had Dr. Beasley, Dr. Beasley decided he was moving on, but guess what always happens with those geese? There is always one that comes forward to lead them on their way.”

Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Turner said, “Dr. Beasley’s definitely going to be missed, leaving some big shoes to fill, but I can say that the Board of Education, when it comes to an interim—or maybe even a future—they got it right. Dr. Smith has served in just about every capacity in the school system. But even moreso than that, the man has a big heart. He truly, truly cares about the students in this community, about their parents, about the community at large. He is very engaged and willing. togo that extra mile to make sure that Clayton County is the gem on the Southside that we know it to be….I can’t wait to see what God has in your future. And I’m gonna say this before I take my seat, As long as you always put God first, allow Him to direct your footsteps, and when those difficult times come, in the form of nine board members, pray. Pray. Whenever there’s a challenge, pray. Whenever you’re undecided, pray. Whenever you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, pray. But know at the end of the day, you have and you will male a difference here in Clayton County. And for that, I thank you for what you’re about to do, thank you for what you have done, and if there is anything that I or the Clayton County Board of Commissioners can do for you, because we’re 100% behind you, you call on us.”

Clayton County Superior Court Judge Shana Rooks Malone swore in Smith, despite not feeling well.

Watch the full swearing-in ceremony, which took place Wednesday night in School Board chambers:

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CCPS will pay Smith $315,000 to run the system of 53,000 students and 7,500 employees.

Also present at Wednesday’s ceremony were Beasley and various members of the Clayton County School Board Cabinet, Clayton County Schools Foundation, the legislative delegation, Board of Commissioners, county law enforcement officials, Chamber of Commerce, faith-based leaders, business and community leaders, district and school-level PTSA/PTO members and officers, mayors and councilmembers from the municipalities, the Clayton County judicial system, members of the swearing-in committee, and school principals and faculty.

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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