New JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens Begins Work

by Devin Katayama on August 1, 2011

Donna Hargens began work on Monday as Jefferson County Public School’s new superintendent. Now she’ll have two weeks to prepare for the first day of school on Aug. 15. But, preparation didn’t start today, she said.

“The work has been ongoing and the staff has worked really, really hard to prepare for the first day. What I’m doing is catching up to where they already are,” she said.

Hargens participated in JCPS’s yearly induction of 327 new teachers at Ballard High School. This year there was a total of 2,334 applicants, said Dr. Diana Decker with JCPS Human Resources.

Hargens offered advice to the new JCPS teachers and told them not to be afraid to ask questions, which she is sure to do herself as she settles into her new position.

“What I’m doing is listening,” said Hargens. “When I was here to interview what I did was talk and didn’t really get a chance to listen to people. So what I’ve been doing is taking the time to actually listen to people.”

When asked about her opinion on Jefferson County’s re-staffing method for its 13 persistently low achieving schools, Hargens did not say whether she agreed with the method. In her previous Wake County Public School system, it used a combination of methods for low performing schools, she said.

During her visit to Jefferson County last month she was briefed on a few key issues like student assignment and busing, but she still needs more information before making any formal assessments, she said.

Hargens will visit Doss High School this afternoon and spend the rest of the day with cabinet staff. Doss is one of the 13 schools listed as persistently low achieving.

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