Focus on big picture a priority for Houston educator

PERRY — Keeping an eye toward the larger picture within the Houston County school system is one of the main goals for Linda Horne, who became assistant superintendent for school operations in May.

Chosen by the Houston County Board of Education to replace Superintendent Robin Hines, Horne was principal of Perdue Primary School from 2003 to 2009 before serving as the director for elementary operations for one year.

Her responsibilities include overseeing zoning, transfers, student handbooks, principal procedure, school resource officers and safety.

All of those elements play a critical role in school quality, Horne said.

“What takes place in the schools affects educational instruction too,” she said.

Horne said she is making an effort to reach out to middle and high school principals about their concerns in her new role.

“I’m excited. There are new things to learn and find out about,” she said. “The challenges make the decisions stronger and better.”

Horne said she has taken on a “system vision” toward the school system in the time she has been working in the central office.

“What affects the system affects individual schools,” she said. “Sometimes, principals look at how things affect (their) schools but forget the school system. You have to look at the forest, not just the tree.”

Horne said has been shaped by her experience teaching a diverse array of students. In her 37-year career as an educator, she has taught students in Okinawa, Japan, San Antonio and her hometown of Fitzgerald, as well as in Houston County.

She has worked at Title I schools, with students in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program, schools with high percentages of students eligible for free or reduced lunches, as well as more affluent students. Those experiences have shown her the importance of parents and community in student success, she said.

“We prepare children to go and work in the community,” she said. “Understanding the success of the school system determines the success of the community.”

Horne’s 27 years working in Houston County have made an impact on her.

“With the experience I’ve had, as a teacher, counselor, administrator and now in the central office, all those experiences have made me a product of the Houston County school system,” she said.

The population growth in Houston County is one of the biggest changes during her time in the area, Horne said.

“As it continues to grow, and we continue to face issues, we’ll continue to make the best decisions for the students in the community,” she said.

Horne, who has degrees from Tift College and Georgia College & State University, as well as an instructional leadership certificate from the University of Georgia, said she has no intention of retiring anytime soon.

“I’m a learner. I’m excited about what I’m doing in the school system,” she said. “I’m dedicated to the school system and what they’re doing. I’m not through yet as far as education goes.”

To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.