New superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools talks big changes in 1-on-1 with Channel 9

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz got to walk along with the new superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools as she toured her new stomping ground Monday.

“I was in Rowan-Salisbury Schools for 21 years, so it feels a bit like coming home,” said Dr. Kelly Withers.

Withers is using the first two weeks of her time as superintendent to reconnect with students and staff members, as she did while touring Granite Quarry Elementary School.

She said there’s a lot of work to be done in the district to push literacy forward.

“We are always looking at the metric of third grade reading. That’s a metric that the entire state, nation is looking at, and we have some work to do there. I think we have work to do across the board, though, just to get back to pre-pandemic levels,” Withers said.

Another issue made worse by the pandemic is mental health, something Withers spoke about with Granite Quarry staff members.

She is also pushing for safety, which is a hot-button issue in the county after students at West Rowan Middle School were remote learning for four weeks following elevated levels of mold found in the building in August.

“Safety is our top concern, so we are working with operations to make sure all of our buildings are having that assessment and making sure we know what is going on in each and every building. And then being as transparent as possible,” Withers told Goetz.

She also said she plans to make changes, like a bigger focus on community involvement, but it will all start in the classroom.

“Ultimately, that is how you change a community, is first in their educational system,” she said.

(WATCH BELOW: Students return to Rowan County middle school after mold was found in HVAC system)

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.