CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The new superintendent of Charleston County Schools says she is committed to working with everyone despite the controversy surrounding her hiring.
"I've met people who've said, 'You weren't my choice but you're here and the best thing I can do for kids in Charleston is to make sure that you're successful, so let's see how we can work together,'" Dr. Gerrita Postlewait says just shy of two weeks into her new position.
Postlewait is excited about being the new school superintendent for Charleston County schools.
She says her parents and grandparents taught her there's no problem that work and worship won't solve.
She knows there has been controversy about her hiring, with some critics charging several school board members met with her ahead of time before the vote was taken to hire her. That criticism has been especially harsh in the black community as expressed by the NAACP.
Most of the white school board members voted for Postlewait, but most of the black members voted against her.
"Of course it's a concern," she said. "I'm deeply saddened that my name and personality have become the center of some of that unrest, dissension, distrust but I am dedicated to working with everyone who is willing to find common ground around what we can do for children."
She says helping children is what she is all about.
She says the district's biggest problem is what she calls the readiness gap between those students doing well and those lagging behind. She believes what she calls the "assembly line method" of educating kids from kindergarten through high school is just not working. Each student, she says, must be treated as an individual who learns at his or her own pace. She also believes end of school testing is not the be-all and end-all of teaching kids.
Postlewait said she wants to make a promise to every parent and every student in the district: "We meet a child where he is and that we guarantee parents that every single quarter, positive growth has happened for every single child."
In terms of achieving more diversity in top-tier schools like Academic Magnet, she believes the problem is twofold.
"Not enough minority children are applying because it's viewed as a school that's for other people in some cases," she said. "And of the children who apply, not enough are ready."
Postlewait is also a woman of faith and says her religious beliefs have helped ground her.
"I always try to find those places of intersection between my faith and the faiths or fundamental beliefs of others," she said.
The first day for Charleston County schools, as well as other districts in the Lowcountry, is Aug. 17.