GAINESVILLE - When the school year ends in a few weeks in the city of Gainesville, for the first time in decades Merriane Dyer will not go to school as a Red Elephant.
Dyer, who is retiring after six years as the system superintendent, attended Gainesville City Schools as a student, graduated from Gainesville High School and taught in the system, as well. She said she never aspired to be superintendent. In fact, when she was approached about the job initially, she was convinced the school board needed to look elsewhere for a qualified candidate.
"I learned that sometimes when you're called and it's the right time, you should step up, even though you're afraid," said Dyer.
Dyer took over the reins at a time when the Gainesville system was in financial crisis. In fact, there was a $6 million budget deficit to tackle. Today, there is a surplus in the school system bank account.
Dyer said there were some valuable lessons learned over the last six years.
"If you put your faith in the hands of a only few, and then those few stumble, then you all stumble," said Dyer. "I think we're more mature [now], I think we're smarter and we're grateful for what we have. We're wiser stewards of what we have."
Dyer said she is especially grateful for the support of the Gainesville community.
"We would not have been able to recover from the deficit had we not had that support from the community."
While Dyer is retiring, she plans to stay busy, acting as a contract consultant with the National Dropout Prevention Center in Clemson, S.C., as well as working with the Scholastic Company.
"Mostly, I'm looking forward to spending time in my home," noted Dyer. "I've not been able to be there very often for the last several years."