Press release from Asheville City Schools:
Dr. Gene Freeman has been selected as the new superintendent of Asheville City Schools.
A veteran superintendent with more than 25 years of educational experience, Dr. Freeman is currently the superintendent of Fox Chapel Area School District, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fox Chapel serves more than 4,000 students with a staff of nearly 700 and a budget of $103 million. Dr. Freeman is a 2000 Fulbright Scholar, a 2001 Milken Educator Award Recipient and is a published education scholar.
“My wife and I have decided that we would like to return to North Carolina. Though I am retiring from Pennsylvania Public Schools, I feel that I have more to contribute and more to learn,” said Dr. Freeman. “I am motivated, eager and ready to work with the Asheville City Schools team to make a great school district even better.”
Pittsburgh Magazine recently named the Fox Chapel Area School District as the top-ranked suburban district in the region. In 2018, his district ranked fourth among Western Pennsylvania Public School Districts and eighth in the state for student achievement. In fact, his 3rd Graders ranked first in academic performance across the entire state. These numbers reflect significant growth in academic achievement for all students over a three-year period.
“It became clear to us that Dr. Freeman has employed data-driven instruction to achieve consistent and sustained academic growth in his most recent district,” said Shaunda Sandford, Chair of the Asheville City Board of Education. “Dr. Freeman has served in districts with diverse student populations and led equity assessments to promote excellence. His track record demonstrates that he values the success of all students. ”
Dr. Freeman began his career in the Public Schools of Robeson County in Lumberton, North Carolina more than 25 years ago, first as a teacher, then as the Initially Licensed Teacher Coordinator, before being promoted as the Executive Director for Curriculum and Support Programs.
In August 2006, Dr. Freeman was selected as superintendent of the Weatherly Area School District in Pennsylvania. There he served 800 students, of which more than 40% experienced less access.
Two years later, Dr. Freeman began his tenure as superintendent of Manheim Township School District in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a position he held for nearly six years. The district is home to about 6,000 students and 800 staff members. Under his leadership, Manheim Township developed an International Baccalaureate high school, moved the district from a multi-million deficit in 2009 to a multi-million surplus by 2013 and was responsible for the design/completion of $120 million in construction projects. The innovative and comprehensive data management system he implemented pushed both reading and math scores in his district from below 50th to the top 20 in Pennsylvania. Dr. Freeman also achieved the highest graduation rate in Manheim Township history.
Dr. Freeman is now in his sixth year as superintendent of the Fox Chapel Area School District. There, he has increased student academic growth year after year based on state and national standards. About a quarter of the district is made up of students who experience less access. He also developed and implemented several Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) Academies, created a Spanish immersion program and started a Pre-K program at one of his elementary schools. Additionally, he has enhanced professional development for teachers and staff alike using a unique, benchmarking strategy.
Dr. Freeman earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Master of Arts in Education degree from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and his Doctorate in Education from Fayetteville State University. He received his National Board Certification for Teaching in 2001 and performed post-graduate studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in both 2007 and 2015. Additionally, he attended the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Education Policy Fellowship Program. Dr. Freeman also received the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence in 2014.
Dr. Freeman is the co-author of Integrating Science and Literacy Instruction: A Framework for Bridging the Gap. P ublished in March 2006, the book was written with the goal of developing student reading, writing and oral communication achievement in relation to scientific investigation.
Following the resignation of Dr. Denise Patterson on June 12th, the Asheville City Board of Education began the public engagement phase of their search, which stretched across three months. That engagement included 11 community forums and four surveys. In all, we heard from 2,042 stakeholders. Meanwhile, the board’s attorney, Campbell Shatley PLLC, handled the application, vetting process and interview logistics for the Board. In total, 28 candidates applied. The Board interviewed a handful of semifinalists, and from that process, selected three finalists. The final interviews included a presentation from each candidate and scenario questions, some of which were based on the input received from stakeholders during the 11 community forums.
Dr. Freeman traveled to Asheville on Wednesday, December 18 and is looking forward to introducing himself to Asheville City Schools students, staff and families. This process began at 5:00 PM today following the Board’s unanimous formal vote and introduction.
Dr. Freeman will begin his duties on July 1, 2020, or possibly sooner. Dr. Bobbie Short will continue to serve as Interim Superintendent throughout the transition. During the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, Dr. Short and Dr. Freeman will work together to promote a smooth transition.