Dr. Lynn Moody marks one year as schools chief

Published 2:02 am Thursday, October 16, 2014

By Jeanie Groh


Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody celebrated one year with the Rowan-Salisbury School System on Oct. 1.

“It’s very much like a roller coaster ride,” Moody said. “There are extreme highs or extreme lows in this job.”

“One minute you’re celebrating a great success. The next minute you’re dealing with a discipline issue or a broken down school bus,” she added.

Moody said each day is different, holding its own projects and challenges.

In any given day, she might have a cabinet-level meeting, talk to parents or community members, field phone calls from principals, deal with personnel issues, attend community events or talk with attorneys.

Every three months, Moody meets with various district leaders anywhere between half a day and a full day just to talk about progress on the strategic plan.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is developing a very focused strategic plan and aligning all our strategies out toward our strategic plan,” she said.

Moody said she also tries to spend a lot of her time visiting the district’s schools.

“My favorite part of the job is talking to students about their work,” she said.

“I think I like it because it’s very fast paced – a lot of interaction with different kinds of people, which I enjoy,” she said, adding that she finds it difficult to “find time to just relax.”

“If I’m not moving, I’m asleep,” she said.

Moody said she likes to think strategically, speak in front of groups, plan and organize.

“I don’t like the politics of my job, but I know it’s necessary,” she said. 

Finding a balance is “the hard part” of the job,” she said. “You’re constantly focusing in a different mindset.”

Moody said the highlight of her year was developing the district’s new strategic plan, which focuses on literacy and providing engaging work and instruction through problem-based learning and technology.

The Literacy Summit, which reached out to community partners for help setting up homework centers, as well as the International Society for Technology in Education, were highlights for moody as well.

“We took about 160 teachers to a national technology conference in Atlanta,” she said. ”To see their excitement and listen to their level of collaboration to learn new and best practices and then to watch them present those to their colleagues at the Back-to-School Conference was very exciting.”

Finding an agreement between the school board and county commissioners to fund a central office, changes at Knox Middle and a new elementary school was one of Moody’s greatest victories, but the mediation leading up to the agreement was also one of her biggest challenges.

Moody also hired a large portion of the district’s administrators within the last year.

“We’ve built a really solid administrative team that I’m very proud of,” she said.

At the same time, the district needs “to do a lot of work on systems,” Moody said, adding that the number or new administrators certainly factors into that.

“The biggest challenge overall,” Moody said, “is trying to understand why our students aren’t achieving at a higher level and then to set goals to make improvement.”

She said the biggest changes she’s implemented have been the one-to-one digital conversion, literacy framework, problem-based learning and a focus on collaboration.

All of the district’s high school students have a laptop to use for the entire school year. Middle school students will receive iPads before they leave for winter break, and third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will receive their iPads sometime in the spring.

Moody oversaw the creation of the literacy framework, which defines literacy and provides tools for the district’s teachers to teach the subject students are struggling with most.

“We’re just starting to begin our work on how problem-based learning really plays out in the classroom,” Moody said, adding that they’ve provided professional development for teachers on the new teaching style.

She also said the district is “redesigning classes” with collaboration in mind, so that students learn how to “share as a group and work as a team.”

Over the next year, Moody said she hopes to form an education foundation to fund professional development, continue to analyze and tweak how teachers use their time in the classroom based on data and “raising a culture of high expectations and rigor.”

“This year’s been a year about trying to build trust,” Moody said. “I’m still trying to do that.”

Moody said one of the biggest things she’s noticed is that Rowan County is a “very philanthropic community, willing to donate their time, money and talent.

“It would be hard to name the number of people who have asked me how they can help,” she said.

“The business community has a true sense of how important education is to growing the economy and they’re more than willing to roll up their sleeves and be a partner in improving our education system,” she added.

Moody grew up in Ruffin, a small community in Rockingham County near the Virginia-North Carolina border, and is a graduate of North Carolina State University. She’s worked in Raleigh and across the rest of the state, as well as in Virginia. Before she accepted the position with the Rowan-Salisbury School System, Moody was superintendent of the Rock Hill School System in South Carolina.

When she accepted the job with the Rowan-Salisbury School System, Moody said everything moved really quickly.

“My house sold the very next day in Rock Hill,” she said. “We found a house in Landis and moved in immediately.”

They only stayed in a hotel for a few days.

Moody said that she’s enjoyed trying to make the new house “a home” by working in the yard and decorating.