New WCS superintendent chosen
Kafitz, an Asheville native, has served for the last four months as principal at East Elementary in Union County.
During his 16 years in education, Kafitz has taught fifth grade in Buncombe County Schools and worked for a year on a technology project as an educator-on-loan for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
He also served as assistant principal in Buncombe County Schools and in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools before moving to Union County to open a new elementary school, New Town Elementary, where he worked for two and a half years, he said.
Kafitz also spent two and a half years as director of technology for Union County Public Schools, where he supervised the implementation of the largest middle school laptop initiative in the state.
The Board of Education selected Kafitz from among 32 applicants and approved the hire in a unanimous vote Monday. He was joined at the Margaret E. Gragg Education Center by his wife, Amy, and daughters Emma, 7, and Kate, 5.
Kafitz said he was attracted to Watauga County Schools because of the quality of the schools and that he made the decision to apply “through the lens of a parent, not a school administrator.”
He pledged to keep Watauga County Schools focused on the future and to better a school system that is already strong.
“It is an honor to be selected because there is no greater charge than the education of our youth in today’s world,” Kafitz said.
Kafitz graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, double-majoring in finance and management.
He received his teaching certificate from UNC-Asheville, followed by a master’s degree in elementary education and a doctorate degree in education leadership from Western Carolina University.
Kafitz will take the helm July 1 from interim Superintendent Dick Jones, who came out of retirement to fill in after Marty Hemric left in December to take a job as Wilkes County superintendent Jones and Kafitz planned to meet Tuesday morning to begin discussing the transition.
Jones said he has confidence in the board’s decision and is ready to hand over the reins.
“It’s a great relief, quite honestly,” Jones said. “It’s been a good experience, but it’s really time for the system to settle in.”
Board of Education members Deborah Miller, Lee Warren, Steve Combs, Delora Hodges and John Welch reviewed applications in March and April before conducting interviews with about nine or 10 candidates, Miller said.
Of those, five finalists were asked to complete additional interviews. Two withdrew at that point, leaving the board with three finalists, Miller said.
Miller also visited Kafitz at his current school, where she said staff constantly pulled her aside to rave about the changes he has implemented there during his short time as principal.
Combs, who has been part of three superintendent searches, said he was impressed by each of the applicants.
“This was probably the best pool of applicants we’ve ever had, and this was the toughest choice we’ve ever had to make,” Combs said.
The school system has offered Kafitz a four-year contract, Miller said.
With two young children and a wife who said she has been anxious to return to the mountains, Kafitz said he hopes for a strong tenure.
“We intend to stay a long time,” Kafitz said.