Former superintendent in Muscogee, Harris counties Susan Andrews becomes Georgia deputy superintendent for Race to the Top

When she retired this summer after 35 years in public education, Susan Andrews didn't feel that her work was finished.

So the former superintendent of the Muscogee County and Harris County school districts became an evaluation systems specialist in the Georgia Department of Education's teacher and leader effectiveness division.

But when State School Superintendent John Barge and Gov. Nathan Deal asked her to fill a vacant deputy superintendent position, Andrews was willing to serve even more.

Monday was her first day in charge of implementing the state's Race to the Top grant.

"I'm extremely excited about it and so honored that Gov. Deal and Dr. Barge have confidence that I can take Race to the Top to completion," Andrews said.

Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion federal contest that motivates states to compete for grants that fund new ways to produce better school performance. Georgia received $400 million two years ago. Half of that stayed at the state level, and the other half was divided among 26 school districts that also competed for the grants. Muscogee County is among them.

Andrews said Race to the Top involves developing four major initiatives in Georgia:

New curriculum, called Common Core.

New teacher and leader evaluation systems.

New student information systems.

New strategies to improve lower-performing schools.

Andrews still has her home in Harris County, but she is renting an apartment in Atlanta for an easier commute.

"This is just very important work," she said.

Georgia has two years left on the grant, which also will mark the end of Andrew's position -- and when she might really retire.

Until then, she said, she is committed to "make sure we use every dollar wisely."

Andrews replaced Teresa MacCartney, who left the Georgia Department of Education at the end of October to become the state's chief financial officer and director of the Office of Planning and Budget.

Barge said Andrews' experience made her a clear choice.

"She was one of our early adopters for Race to the Top work," he said. "We needed somebody that was familiar with the work and supportive of the work and understood the work and could take over without missing a beat."

Barge also noted the respect Andrews has earned among her colleagues. She was the Georgia Superintendent of the Year and one of four national finalists in 2007.

"I couldn't think of anyone better," he said.

Andrews spent 32 years in Harris County as a teacher, principal and superintendent before she was hired as Muscogee County superintendent in December of 2008.

She announced her retirement in March of 2012 at the age of 57, effective July 31, but she left a month earlier after the school board in May rejected seven candidates she nominated as principals and two others administrators.