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2 of 3 Franklin Co. school districts led by women

August 09, 1999

Julia CigolaBy ERIN HEATH / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




When the new superintendent of the Central Fulton School District talks about that "spark" children get when they first understand a difficult concept, her eyes light up and she smiles.

"It's hard to describe the feeling you get when you're watching a group of children and they're learning. They're exploring new areas that they've never seen before and never understood before," Julia Cigola said.

Cigola, 45, in July she became the first woman school superintendent of Central Fulton School District and one of two women superintendents in Fulton County. The other is Carolyn Shegelski of Southern Fulton.

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It was not uncommon 20 years ago to see school districts with a majority of women teachers but an administration run mainly by men, Cigola said.

Now, administrative positions are going to the most qualified candidates, whether they are male or female, she said.

"Women are starting to realize that they can be just as effective as administrators as men," she said.

Cigola spent 14 years as a marketing teacher and became the director of Fulton County Vocational-Technical School before earning a doctorate in education administration from Penn State University.

After that, she was the principal of McConnellsburg High School, assistant superintendent and then acting superintendent of Central Fulton School District before succeeding Hervey Hann as the new superintendent.

Cigola said her main goal is to continue the administration's efforts to form a more cohesive curriculum at Central Fulton schools.

Last year, teachers documented their daily activities, including the content of their lesson plans and the skills they addressed. Now Cigola will lead the effort to weed out the gaps and overlapping content throughout each grade level.

"Curriculum is what drives the educational process," she said. "The goal is to have a seamless curriculum starting at the kindergarten level and working up through the 12th grade."

One of Cigola's chief concerns, in light of the recent publicity involving violence in schools, is to make sure Central Fulton schools are as safe as possible.

She said she also wants to keep the school district on the cutting edge of technological advances in education.

"As far as technology is concerned, I would say Central Fulton is above average, but one of the areas we need to work on is integrating technology into teaching," she said.

Central Fulton students enjoy such amenities as a video conferencing system, which allows them to take classes not offered at their school by interacting with teachers from other schools via satellite, she explained.

Cigola said she is motivated by her desire to work with students, to help bring out that spark of understanding.

As the new school superintendent, she said she plans to keep "helping them to be successful in whatever they attempt to do."

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