Celeta Thomas knows the hallways at Dooly County High School. She’s walked them for the past nine months as interim superintendent. That changed Monday morning when she became the superintendent after being sworn in to serve.

“It’s a new day in Dooly County,” Thomas said. “We’re stabilizing, we're growing, we're empowered, and we're excited about the new direction.”

During her 9 months as interim, she helped the system navigate a difficult period before and after Governor Nathan Deal removed the previous school board.

He cited reasons of not following policy, interfering with school management, and bickering at board meetings. Deal's newly-appointed school board tapped Thomas to keep leading the district.

“Now that you have a permanent superintendent, it pretty much stabilizes the district,” Thomas said. “It stabilizes the staff, it’s a sign of relief, it’s the sign that we don’t have to do this over again with another leader.”

She and the teachers in Dooly, like Carolyn Brooks, say their first priority is student success

“Everybody is all hands on deck,” Brooks said. “They're willing to come out and roll up their sleeves to do what we need to do in order to move our district forward, to serve our kids so they can get the best quality education," one that Thomas hopes her students and parents saw she persevered through months of turmoil for.

“If you weather the storm, the sun will shine,” Thomas said. “I want them to understand that anything worth having is worth working for.”