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Superintendent Bailey makes pick for new special ed director

Grady County School Superintendent Lee M. Bailey has reached from within the system to select his choice for the county’s next director of special education.
Bailey decided late last week to recommend Cristie L. Gilliard to the school board on Oct. 8 to be hired as the special ed director.
Mrs. Gilliard currently serves as the instructional coordinator at Eastside Elementary School, a position she has held since 2011.
She began working in the Grady County School System in 1997 as a speech pathologist at Eastside.
In 2001, Mrs. Gilliard took on the role as a pre-school handicapped teacher at Eastside and in 2006 she became an early intervention teacher at Southside Elementary School.
It was back to Eastside in 2009 as a pre-school handicapped teacher and in 2011 she transitioned into the instructional coordinator position.
Mrs. Gilliard will replace Natalie Zajac who resigned at the beginning of this school term.
Since Mrs. Zajac’s departure, the duties of special education director have been handled by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard, who is the former county special education director and the husband of the soon-to-be special ed director.
“Special Education is a very important program that receives state and federal dollars and is governed by federal laws and regulations. It is not a program that I would want to drag out the process of hiring a replacement. We have approximately 393 children in the Special Education program, 65 Special Ed teachers and staff. I am pleased that we have a qualified candidate within the system to assume this role,” Superintendent Lee M. Bailey said this week.
Mrs. Gilliard was the choice of the superintendent and an interview team comprised of School Psychologist Susan Zipperer, Eastside Assistant Principal Chaquilla Wright, retired Thomas County special ed director Dr. Bonnie Seery, and Grady County Asst. School Superintendent Demetrius Cox.
Seven applicants applied for the position and four, including Mrs. Gilliard, were interviewed.
“The consensus was that Mrs. Gilliard could head our program, do a great job and would have the support of parents and the Special Education staff,” Dr. Bailey said.
Mrs. Gilliard earned her Bachelors of Education, Masters, and Education Leadership/Education Specialist degrees from Valdosta State University. She is certified in Speech and Language Pathology (Pre-12), Special Education, Special Education Pre-K, and in Educational Leadership.
As the Eastside Instructional Coordinator, Mrs. Gilliard coordinated all testing, provided training for new teachers, and handled scheduling.
Eastside Principal Shelia Cain is in the process of hiring a new instructional coordinator to replace Mrs. Gilliard, according to Superintendent Bailey.
Bailey notified the school board members of his decision to recommend Mrs. Gilliard and the board will take up the recommendation next month.

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