Beaufort County superintendent begins first day on the job ahead of curve

Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Moss
Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Moss Staff photo

Officially, Monday was Jeffrey Moss' first day as the Beaufort County School District superintendent.

But unofficially?

"I probably know every little bump on (Interstate) 95 between here and Lee County, N.C.," Moss said. "I've met and already know so many people; today ... it's almost like coming to work on another normal day."

Moss was picked Feb. 28 to succeed former superintendent Valerie Truesdale and began working almost immediately with acting superintendent Jackie Rosswurm. He made about a dozen trips from Lee County, where he was schools superintendent, to Beaufort County to screen and interview candidates for five vacant principal posts, eat lunch with students and participate in Board of Education retreats.

So by Monday, Moss had already established a bit of a routine.

He started his day at a morning meeting of senior district staff to map out priorities for the month and prepare for Tuesday's school board meeting. He also discussed how best to fill the vacancies created by the promotions of two assistant principals.

Next, he attended a meeting of the Hilton Head Island First Monday Republican Lunch Group, where he listened to Barbara Nielsen of Beaufort County, the state superintendent of education from 1990 to 1999, discuss the controversial Common Core standards for S.C. public schools.

"Today was perfect timing," Moss said of the meeting. "It gave me an opportunity to have casual conversations with community members and local leaders and how they feel about the school system, as well as how we can blend our talents to help the district."

Those leaders included state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, who has worked to boost the district's share of state funding.

"He knew I worked closely with Valerie Truesdale in matters with education funding and looked forward to working with me in the same way," said Davis, who also attended the Republican club's meeting.

Moss has a 90-day work plan that calls for weekly meetings with county civic groups, nonprofit organizations, businesses and parent organizations. He also plans to visit each of the district's 30 schools and to review district staffing "to see if maybe there's a more efficient way we could be doing business."

Moss said he has not made up his mind if the county's public schools are top-heavy with district administrators and directors, but "I'll be able to talk more intelligently on that in the next 30 days or so."

He said he'll give the school board monthly updates on the progress he's made in the 90-day plan.

Jocelyn Staiger, government affairs director for the Hilton Head Island Association of Realtors who attended the Republican meeting, said Moss seems friendly, articulate and "excited to bring what he knows to our county."

"Any access we have to meet our new superintendent is important, and was pleased to see him take the time to listen to community discussion of an important educational issue," Staiger said.

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