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School officials high on Costlow

An intensive hiring process concluded last week when an administrator from Bulloch County was announced as the newest principal for Screven County Middle School.
Dr. Robert (Bobby) Costlow was unanimously approved by the school board June 12 during a called BOE meeting. Costlow comes to Screven County after serving as assistant principal at Statesboro High School during the 2013-1014 school term. Before his stint with Statesboro High, Costlow was an administrator at Southeast Bulloch High School.
The new SCMS principal succeeds Brian Scott who will assume the high school principal role from Brett Warren, who moves to the elementary school to succeed a retiring Becky Martin at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year.
During his combined tenure at SEB and Statesboro high schools, Costlow has served a total of nine years as an assistant principal and three of those years he also handled the role of athletic director at the high school.
Before being promoted to administrator, Costlow taught multiple subjects for 11 years. Among those subjects were science, physics, chemistry, mathematics and pre-calculus. Costlow also was a teacher at Bulloch Academy.
The addition of Costlow to the middle school was not the only change approved by the BOE June 12 as assistant principal Wanda Parrish was reassigned as half of her time for the 2014-2015 year will be at the county office. The other 50 percent of her job will be as an assistant principal at SCMS.
Superintendent William Bland said Parrish’s reassignment was because of the decreased student enrollment numbers at the middle school and the increased responsibilities necessary at the county office. Bland also said Parrish’s time at the middle school during 2014-2015 will help in Costlow’s transition as the new principal of the school. Gilda Rackley will remain full-time at SCMS as an assistant principal.
Bland said Costlow is “a very knowledgeable principal with a well-rounded background.” The superintendent said the committee established for the SCMS principal search found Costlow to be an “outstanding instructional leader.”
Costlow was chosen from 24 applicants by a nine-member interview team. He also met with eight teacher committee members.
“Seventeen staff members had input in Dr. Costlow’s hiring,” Bland said. “A thorough background check was done on the applicants.”
Bland said the number of candidates for the job was narrowed down to nine. The committee members took either one or two of the applications and conducted background and reference checks, including reference checks of individuals specifically listed as references.
The superintendent checked Google, Facebook and other forms of social media. Candidates were spoken with and committee members provided a presentation to the full search group about their particular applicant.
Married to Sherril Costlow, the 44-year-old Bobby Costlow and his wife have two children – a 16-year-old daughter, who will be joint enrolled during 2014-2015, and 12-year-old son.
Costlow was officially approved by the BOE by 1 p.m. June 12. Just hours later, that evening he met with current SCMS principal Brian Scott at the school to discuss aspects of how the school was organized technologically and structurally.
The new middle school principal said he initially had discussions with assistant superintendent Jim Thompson about the opening of the elementary school position that would be filled with the transfer of Brett Warren from the high school to SCES.
Costlow said he noticed one aspect quickly about the school district as he began to talk to employees within the system.
“They were so supportive,” he said. “When I came in to talk with the committee, I left feeling like one of the family.”
Costlow said he is used to putting in extra hours after the school bell rings for students to head home. Being an assistant principal at the high school level and athletic director can translate into overseeing additional activities after the traditional school hours.
“You are going to see me in the community. I want to spend my time and my money in this community,” Costlow said. “I can’t be a principal without being part of the community.”
He said Statesboro High School, his latest job, was a caring school setting. Costlow sees similar attributes in SCMS and the Screven County school system.
“It was so refreshing. It is so nice to have another school like that,” he said. “I am here to serve the community.”
While Costlow, a former head baseball coach, has most recently worked in Bulloch County, he already has been an influence in the lives of Screven County residents by way of his coaching travel softball teams.
Anna Canetto, who is a SCMS physical education teacher, met Costlow when her eldest daughter played travel ball. Canetto said Costlow was very thorough in his team preparations.
“He would record the girls when hitting and put it on DVD with specific feedback so they were able to see what they were doing right or wrong,” Canetto said of Costlow. “He communicated well with adults -- for example he was very organized with the records of the finances. He showed us an itemized record of what was taken in and how the money was spent.”
Cynthia Lee, whose daughter also played for one of Costlow’s teams, had high praise for the new middle school principal.
Lee said Costlow has been the organizational leader for South Georgia Fury travel softball for a total five teams. Lee was the head coach of the 10-and-under aged girls and she has coached under Costlow for two years.
“I am very excited Dr. Costlow is coming to Screven County,” Lee said. “He is a strong leader with a passion for success. He believes in the concept of teamwork and relates well to both adults and youth. With my own daughter entering the middle school, I am even more excited about its new leadership.
“He is going to do great things with the middle school,” Lee said. “He is very driven, extremely knowledgeable, savvy with technology, and very data-oriented. He is loyal to his purpose and willing to address issues as they arise, wanting the overall best.”
Bland said the interview committee “really liked his enthusiasm in the instructional leadership role.”
“He had a high desire to be a principal and saw our school system as an opportunity,” Bland said. “He is very familiar with our school system and our community.
“It is my belief when you are searching for the appropriate candidate, it is just as important it is a good fit for them as it is a good fit for us.”
Bland said based on the current needs of the middle school Costlow was the most appropriate applicant for the job.
“I feel he has the highest level of acceptability based upon the needs of the school at this time,” Bland said.
Another candidate was approved by the BOE June 9 during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting. However, upon Bland contacting the candidate about the board’s approval that evening, the candidate from North Georgia already had accepted another job offer.
The superintendent said the administration was in the process of implementing a plan to provide more assistance at the county office before Martin’s retirement announcement. With Martin’s announcement in April, Bland said June 12 that principal posts had to be filled before a reassignment could be made.
SCMS assistant principal Parrish will split her time between the middle school and the county office in 2014-2015.
“There were two leading factors in this – No. 1 is the needs countywide cannot be taken care of at the county office without help,” said Bland of Parrish assisting at the central office with the continued expectations from the state. “And No. 2 is due to the decrease in student numbers at the middle school. It is difficult to validate having a principal and two assistant principals there.”
For 15 consecutive years, the school system has faced reduced overall enrollment.