published Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Dade County Schools chief to retire in April

Dade County Schools will have to find a new superintendent by May 1, because current Superintendent Shawn Tobin has announced he will retire.

"Dade County is the most spiritual, patriotic and empathetic environment in which I have lived," Tobin wrote in a farewell letter to school employees -- or, as he called them "Dear Dade Family."

Among the accomplishments Tobin cited during his three years on the job is establishing the Dade County Mentorship Program, which he wrote is "one of the best mentorship programs in the state."

"It is incredible what can happen when we allow our churches to be more involved with our schools," he wrote.

Trudy Luken, a county resident who approached Tobin about setting up the mentorship program, said it has been a success. About 55 students now are involved, she said, ranging in age from elementary school to high school.

"I've seen some good come out of it," Luken said. "I think [Tobin's] done an excellent job."

Tobin also expressed gratitude in his letter for the creation of the district's Emotional Behavioral Program.

"We have children in Dade County Schools, through no fault of their own, that have been exposed to unthinkable situations or ... have neurological deficiencies requiring [the program's] services," Tobin wrote.

The district has faced challenges, Tobin wrote, such as difficult budgets. But he wrote that "on the bright side, our financial situation is better today than it has been in five years."

In a separate letter to school board members, Tobin wrote that his last day would be April 30 and that he was giving more than 90 days' notice to give the school district time to find a replacement.

Tobin couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday. He has worked in Georgia as an educator for 25 years in the capacity as a superintendent, high school principal, assistant principal, teacher and coach in Carrollton City Schools, Carroll County Schools, Dalton Public Schools and the Douglas County School District.

Tobin, a Chicago native, was 48 when he was tapped in January 2011 as Dade County superintendent to replace Patty Priest, according to Times Free Press archives.

Tobin said then his military experience -- he was a sergeant in the signal company of the U.S. Army's Special Forces from 1982 to 1985 and in the reserves from 1990 to 1992 -- helped him become a better leader and taught him about the world.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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