Thursday, September 15, 2005

Gentry takes city superintendent post

Staff Writer

After a two-month search, the Holly Springs School District has hired a new superintendent, Dr. Cynthia Gentry of Memphis, to fill the position vacated by Judy Smith in June.

Gentry said she has a personal vision for the school district.

“My personal vision is for every child in the district to have a quality education with powerful teaching and compelling learning experiences,” she said. “I want the entire Holly Springs community to experience the MAGIC - making a greater individual commitment.”

Gentry, who has extended family roots in Holly Springs, said she will look for a permanent residence because she wants to become an integral part of the community and be accessible to the public.

“I want to live here where I can contribute to the social, political and especially educational community,” she said.

Underscoring the school district’s stated mission, Gentry said she is here to help carry out that mission - that students be able to think critically, to act responsibly, to act compassionately and to change the world.

Gentry added that she is a spiritually guided person and feels coming to Holly Springs is a part of her purpose in life.

“I asked God to direct my path,” she said. “This district has great needs and God is going to use me to help fulfill these needs. I see myself as an educational ambassador. I am a fifth-generation educator.”

Gentry said she will focus on goals and results which she can be remembered for in Holly Springs.

“I want it to be a part of my legacy where people can say Cynthia Gentry made a difference,” she said. “I want to make a difference in the lives of people and especially children. Education is power.”

Some hobbies and interests Gentry includes in her life are a love for literature and music (she’s an accomplished pianist), writing of poetry, gardening and travel.

Her role models are her mother, Annie D. Holmes, a retired principal and teacher, and Mary McCleod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College in Florida. Bethune served as an ambassador for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she said.

Gentry received a Bachelor’s from Siena College and a Master’s in educational administration and supervision and PhD in educational leadership and organizational management from the University of Memphis.

She served as assistant professor at Crichton College; was interim principal at Klondike Elementary School in Memphis and Havenview Middle School; served as assistant principal at Lincoln Junior High and executive director of Shelby County Head Start, Inc. She retired in 2002 from Memphis City School where she also taught AP English for 12 years at Westwood High School before moving up to administrative duties in the school system. Gentry began teaching in 1972. She served as adjunct professor at three colleges and one university.

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