Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott announces retirement at end of school year

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 7:47 pm

BOONE — Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott announced his plan to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. The announcement came during the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting on December 12. Elliott has served as superintendent for the last nine years after being selected for the position in 2014.

In announcing his retirement plans, Elliott conveyed his gratitude to the school system and community for their support over the years.

“To everything there is a season and a purpose under Heaven. My season here has been a pure blessing to both my family and me, and our service in the school system will be something for which we are forever grateful and immensely proud,” Elliott stated. “At the end of this school year, I will be eligible to retire from our public schools, and that is what I plan to do. I will continue to be engaged and supportive of this great school system as both a parent and a champion for our public schools. Our family plans to remain here in this community that has become our home. I will be seeking new ways to be engaged and give back to this place we love.”

Elliott’s wife, Laura, has taught science and social studies at Parkway School for the last eight years. They have two children, Grayson and Athena, who are students at Watauga High School.

Elliott came to Watauga from the Transylvania County School system where he served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, director, and assistant superintendent. Prior to becoming a high school English teacher, Elliott worked in the community college system, teaching reading and math skills to adults in manufacturing plants, a maximum security prison, and a Job Corps program for at-risk youth.

He was recognized as the Transylvania County Schools Teacher of the Year and later as Administrator of the Year. In 2014, he was named the Western Region Career and Technical Education Director of the Year, and in 2019 he was selected as the Northwest North Carolina Regional Superintendent of the Year. Elliott currently serves on the board of the NC Association of School Administrators, and this year he was appointed by the NC Legislature to serve on the 18 member Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission which develops statewide policy on teacher education programs and educator licensure requirements.

Elliott currently serves on the board of directors of a number of community organizations including the High Country United Way, the Watauga County Library, the Advancement Board of the Reich College of Education, the ASU Public Schools Partnership, and the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce where he previously served as board chairman. In 2021 he was named the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year.

“Tonight we are accepting the retirement of an outstanding leader in public education and our community,” Dr. Gary Childers said.  “Dr. Scott Elliott came to us in a time of need, stabilized our school system, and then led us to the status of being ‘the best place to learn and work’ in North Carolina. We are going to miss him, but he has accomplished more over the last nine years than anyone could have ever hoped for and deserves to enjoy his well-earned retirement! It is time for us to gracefully let him go and support him in his post retirement plans. He not only restored stability and confidence in our school system but also showed us what is possible when we all work together for our students. Because of Scott, we are well positioned to move forward and continue the tradition of quality and excellence people expect from our schools.”

Childers noted the district’s accomplishments under Superintendent Elliott’s leadership. This includes the development of the Watauga Innovation Academy and expansion of free college classes for students, increased mental health and student support services, creating a homeschool dual enrollment program, and securing grants to increase the number of school resource officers in the district.

During the most recent academic school year, all of the schools in the district either met or exceeded their academic growth goals set by the state. Childers specifically mentioned Elliott’s tenacity in leading the plans for a new Valle Crucis School and building positive relationships throughout the community in support of the school district.

“He has also made some outstanding hiring decisions over the years and mentored many younger leaders,” Childers added. “We have strong leaders in our central office and in our schools who are prepared to lead us into the future, and we have a very experienced and stable board that will ensure that we find the right person. Several of us have been through superintendent transitions in the past, so we feel confident in making the right decisions for our community.”

Elliott has set a tentative retirement date in September in order to give the board of education time to conduct a thorough search and allow for a transition between Elliott and the next superintendent. Childers said that the goal is to have a new person in place in July, but the board intends to be deliberate in finding the right person no matter how long it takes.

“We plan to look far and wide for the next superintendent. Dr. Elliott is leaving us in great shape, and we want a smooth transition that ensures continuity of leadership and as much stability as possible for our schools,” Childers stated. “We appreciate Dr. Elliott’s willingness to be available in an advisory capacity to support the new person during this transition and to remain engaged on several important projects like the construction of our new Valle Crucis School.”

Elliott spoke to the timing of his decision, stating that it was the right time for both the school system and for his family.

“As we turn the corner on the challenges that all of us have faced over the last few years, it is time for the school system to look into the future. The school system deserves strong, positive, and visionary leadership to shepherd and lead us into the future,” Elliott shared. “I want to be able to spend more time with my family and explore some of the other personal and professional interests that I have not been able to pursue. Also, my family deserves a father and a husband who is present, engaged, and healthy. I have given every ounce of myself to this school system, and it's time now that I give more of myself to my family.”
Elliott shared that he plans to continue working and hopes to pursue teaching, writing, and professional consulting as time allows.

“I am deeply proud and grateful for my service here and for the opportunity to realize my dreams as an educator. I love this community so much, and will be forever grateful for the last nine years,” Elliott said.

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