LCSD55 Announces Three Candidates as Finalists for Superintendent

May 1, 2024

The Laurens County School District 55 Board of Trustees voted unanimously tonight to select three candidates as finalists for the position of Superintendent.

The three finalists are (in alphabetical order):

Chris Ballenger, Ed.D. has served as Superintendent for Warren County Public Schools in Bentonville, Virginia since 2020. He served as Superintendent of Jennings Public School District in Oklahoma for 13 years. He has served as an Assistant Superintendent, Physical Education Teacher, Coach, Athletic Director, and Teacher/Principal. He earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Southwestern College. He earned a Master of Science in Educational Leadership Studies and Bachelor of Science in Physical Education/Health and Safety from Oklahoma State University.

Jody Penland, Ed.D. currently serves as Co-Interim Superintendent in Laurens County School District 55. Prior to this, he served as Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services, Director of Research, Testing, Accountability, and Federal Programs, Director of Professional Development and Math/Science Coordinator in the district. He was a Mathematics Specialist for the Upper Savannah Science and Math Hub (S2TEM) and a Mathematics teacher in Laurens 56. He earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of the Cumberlands, a Master of Education in Elementary Education/Critical Needs Secondary Mathematics Education from Converse College and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Francis Marion University.

Martin Wright, Ph.D. currently serves as a principal for the Liberty County School Systems in Georgia. He previously served as Deputy Superintendent/Chief Academic Officer for Clarendon County School District 4. Additionally, Martin served as Superintendent of Hampton County School District 2 before district consolidation. He has also served as a Principal, Assistant Principal, and classroom teacher. He most recently earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership from Columbia International University. He earned his Education Specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University and a Master of Education from Lesley University. He received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Claflin University.

The board made its selection of the three finalists after a thorough review of all applicants and interviews with semi-finalists on April 23-24, 2024. The finalists will be in the district on May 14 (Penland), May 15 (Wright), and May 20 (Ballenger) – following the regular board meeting for a community Meet and Greet followed by  their final interview with the board.

The Meet and Greet events with each candidate (on the day of their final interview) will be at 5:30 p.m. in the board room at the district office. The public is invited to come out and meet each finalist.