Dawson County School Superintendent Nicky Gilleland announced Monday night that he will step down at the end of the school year.
The Board of Education approved the decision, which will allow Gilleland to retire on June 30.
Gilleland, who led the district for three years, will be succeeded by Associate Superintendent Keith Porter.
“I still have six more busy months as superintendent,” Gilleland said. “We have a lot of issues concerning the budget, and I want to leave knowing that I did the best I could.”
A Dawson County native and 35-year veteran of the local school system, Gilleland previously served as associate superintendent. He began his career as a teacher before spending 18 years as principal at Robinson Elementary School.
Plans for his retirement began in late September when Gilleland approached former chairwoman Doris Cook with his request.
“As the leader of the board, it was hard knowing that this was what he wanted,” Cook said. “He just said that it was time.”
The board of education will finalize the details of Porter’s superintendent contract over the next few months.
Porter, who has served as associate superintendent under Gilleland for three years, said he was grateful for the chance.
“I want to express my gratitude to the board of education for their confidence and their willingness to allow me to serve in this position,” he said. “You are wonderful people and I very much appreciate this opportunity.”
Current board Chairman Cecil Bennett said Porter and Gilleland have “always worked well together.”
“We are lucky to have a man of his ability to step right in and keep going with what Nicky has done,” Bennett said.
Porter, who is also a Dawson County native, has spent 25 years with the school system, including as a teacher, principal and curriculum director at the central office.
“In terms of the members on the school board, Dawson County has the best team and is one of the deciding factors of my acceptance of this position,” he said. “The things that we can accomplish and build on that Mr. Gilleland has started and established for us, I think, are going to be special things.”
Gilleland was equally complimentary.
“Keith Porter is a great man and is going to do good things for this school system,” he said. “Anything good that has happened in the past 25 years he has been a part of.
“He is well respected and has so much knowledge. I feel so good about him taking this position. I couldn’t be more proud, as if he was my own son.”
Much thanks and gratitude were expressed toward Gilleland from teachers, principals and fellow board members.
“Thank you is never enough for what you have done for this community,” said board member Will Wade. “It has been an honor to have been a part of your legacy.”
Cook said she probably “wouldn’t be where I am today” if it weren’t for Gilleland when he was principal of Robinson Elementary.
“One thing that he always encouraged parents to do was to get involved,” she said. “I took his advice. I am very thankful, and he will truly be missed.”
E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.