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'There's education in my blood,' new superintendent says

Bo Caldwell, shown in a recent photo, was named Henderson County schools superintendent on March 14, 2016. Bo Caldwell, shown in a recent photo, was named Henderson County schools superintendent on March 14, 2016.

Hardy "Bo" Caldwell, who was named Henderson County schools superintendent, has been aware of the county school system since he was in the crib.

"My mother’s a school teacher, my grandmother was a school teacher and my great-grandfather was a school teacher,” he said. “So there’s education in my blood.”

His father, Hardy Caldwell, was a School Board member for most of his adult life, working side-by-side with the popular and respected superintendent Glenn Marlow, who is credited with raising the bar for the county schools. Hardy Caldwell, who also was a longtime School Board chairman, was active all the way up through the city-county school merger of the early 1990s and the transition from Marlow to Dan Lunsford, the first superintendent of the consolidated system.

“He and Mr. Marlow were very very close,” Caldwell said of his father.

Caldwell, 54, learned Monday night that he had reached the top of the ladder at the school system he's worked in since he graduated from college. The School Board announced that it had named him to succeed David Jones, effective July 1.

In choosing Caldwell, the School Board has for the second straight time promoted a Henderson County native and trusted career employee to lead the system's academic improvement and school construction and to guide it through the sometimes hazardous shoals of county politics.

“I’m a product of Henderson County public schools, I’ve lived here all my life, my children attended the school system and I’ve devoted 32 years here,” he said. “There’s not a better school system in the state of North Carolina. There are special people here. The students are wonderful and the teachers and staff are great. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be selected as superintendent of the Henderson County schools."

As for his own ideas for leading the school system, Caldwell said he endorses his predecessor's priorities and those of the School Board.

“I’m very fortunate to follow Mr. David Jones, who has done a superior job as the superintendent and has laid the roads and foundation in which way we need to head and I’ll certainly do what I can to continue to do what Mr. Jones has laid out," he said. "I look forward to working with county commissioners and working with Mr. Wyatt” on school budgeting and capital projects.

“We’re sorry to lose Mr. Jones, but we’re fortunate to have someone who is truly qualified and knows the system very well,” Board Chair Ervin Bazzle said in a news release. “We look forward to a continuation of exemplary work.”

Currently assistant superintendent for administrative services, Caldwell has spent his 32-year career in Henderson County schools as a teacher, principal and administrator. A graduate of West Henderson High School, he earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Mars Hill College in 1984 before coming home to teach math at Edneyville High School. In 1990 he became assistant principal at Flat Rock Junior High.

Caldwell served as principal at Atkinson Elementary from 1993 to 1996, when he became principal at Apple Valley Middle School. In 2002, he was promoted to central office as senior director of facility management, serving in that role through 2010, when he was named senior director of human resources. In 2014 Jones promoted him to assistant superintendent of administrative services, essentially the system's second in command. Caldwell begins as superintendent on July 1, following Jones’ retirement on June 30.

In addition to his undergraduate degree, Caldwell holds a masters of arts in education and an educational specialist degree from Western Carolina University. He lives in Hendersonville with his wife of 27 years, Jackie. His children, Bryce and Ellie Caldwell, are 2012 and 2015 graduates of North Henderson High School, respectively.

Caldwell serves the community as a member of the Henderson County Board of Public Health, the Henderson County Board of Recreation and the Kiwanis Club of Hendersonville and as member and deacon at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Edneyville.