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LUCI WELDON/The Warren Record

Warren County Board of Education members pictured with Keith Sutton, who will serve as the school district’s interim, or temporary, superintendent from July through December, are, from the left: Linda Byrd, Board Chairwoman Ebony Talley-Brame, Sutton, Board Vice Chairwoman Victoria Lehman, Joyce Long and Jennifer Sims.

 

Keith Sutton, who will serve as Warren County Schools’ interim, or temporary, superintendent from July 1-Dec. 31, claims a number of ties to the local community.

Board of Education Chairwoman Ebony Talley-Brame introduced Sutton during the board’s May 25 work session/business meeting. At the time, Sutton noted that he is a native of Rocky Mount in Edgecombe County and played football at Southwest Edgecombe High School.

“I played against Randy Jordan,” he said of the Warren County High School and University of North Carolina graduate who went on to play professional football for a number of years.

Sutton noted that at the time, both WCHS and Southwest Edgecombe were members of the Tar Roanoke Valley Conference.

He added that in 1998, he worked on the staff of then Congresswoman Eva Clayton.

Sutton told the board that the Warren County community holds a “warm and affectionate place” in his heart.

He has served on the Wake County Board of Education since 2009, and has held the position of chairman for a year and a half.

Talley-Brame told the newspaper last week that the board was impressed with Sutton’s experience, especially on the Wake County Board of Education, credentials and his recent run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“We felt he was a good fit to oversee the day-to-day operations of the school system and also help the school board,” she said.

Sutton holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Master of Science degree in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and a certificate for completing the Urban Superintendents Academy through AASA (the School Superintendents Association) and Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Sutton has worked as legislative affairs program manager with the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in Raleigh, as program development coordinator (victim advocate coordinator) and policy development analyst (Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice) with the N.C. Department of Public Safety in Raleigh, and as excellence director with Best NC (Business for Educational Success and Transformation) in Raleigh. He is founder/principal (education innovation consultant) of FocusED LLC, a firm designed to support organizations in the improvement and transformation of education.

Sutton has served on a number of boards and committees, including the state NAACP, Triangle Urban League, Healthy Schools Task Force, Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps Task Force, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, the Southeast Raleigh Assembly and the Blue Ribbon Committee on the future of Wake County.

He will assume his duties as interim, or temporary, superintendent of Warren County Schools on July 1 at the expiration of current Superintendent Dr. Mary Young’s two-year contract on June 30. Young tendered her resignation earlier this spring. The school district’s Human Resources Officer Dr. Keedra Whitaker will serve as acting superintendent through June 30.

“I am grateful and excited about the appointment and look forward to working with the board and the community,” Sutton told the board during its recent meeting. “I want to make the Warren County school system what it should be and one we can all be proud of.”

He listed his priorities as student achievement and operations efficiency, “infrastructure needs and human capital needs, to make sure we are employing innovative strategies around recruitment, retention and compensation to make sure we attract the best talent here to Warren County to live, work and play.”

Talley-Brame told the newspaper last week that the board chose to appoint an interim, or temporary, superintendent in order to slow down the superintendent search process in order to allow board members to work together to identify the vision and direction they want to take in selecting a superintendent. She noted that board members also want to take more time to identify the characteristics they would like to see in the next superintendent of schools, and to review data provided by the community during the last superintendent search about what they believe are the most important traits of a good superintendent.

“We want to take a really close look at what we need,” Talley-Brame said.