‘Relied on My Faith’: Huntsville superintendent reflects on pandemic challenges, teacher shortages ahead of retirement
WAFF 48 sat down for a one-on-one exclusive with Superintendent Christie Finley
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The school year comes to an end on Wednesday for students in Huntsville City Schools (HCS). It also marks the end of a career for Superintendent Christie Finley.
Christie Finley is retiring after nearly 30 years in education. The last five of those years were spent serving as superintendent of HCS. In an exclusive one-on-one, WAFF’s Haley Baker talked to Christie Finely about her future and the legacy she will leave behind.
IN A TIME BEFORE COVID-19
In 2018, when Christie Finley took the superintendent position, she said she knew it would only be a five-year role.
“There is a time and a season for everything,” she said. “I said at the beginning when my youngest son graduates high school and takes his next step, then I would too. Here it is. It’s gone by so fast.”
Christie Finley is a third-generation educator, and she said her mother was her inspiration for a career in education. She began her career as a teacher, then a counselor, before she rose to the ranks of principal. The jobs came with challenges, but at the end of the day, she said she always tried to do the best thing for the students.
“Our most valuable resource is our teachers. I firmly believe that,” Christie Finley said. “As a superintendent, I can put change in place. But at the end of the day, teachers, they are our most valuable asset.”
COVID-19 INTRODUCES NEW CHALLENGES TO EDUCATORS
Just two years into the job, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Christie Finley was faced with an entire set of new challenges.
“It was difficult for everyone, teachers, students, and parents,” Christie Finley said. “There were a lot of decisions made by the schools, state, and nationwide, and there were consequences we didn’t see. It was difficult. Honestly...I relied on my faith and prayed a lot. I knew I had to keep persevering and lead the ship.”
As WAFF has reported, the pandemic led to teacher shortages across the country, and mental health issues also became a major focus.
“That was a consequence of the pandemic,” Christie Finley said. “We had seasoned teachers who decided it was time to retire. We also had to plan and coordinate to allow for more mental health counselors in our schools, so that our teachers could focus on student achievement and support in the classroom.”
When it comes to raising a family and juggling a busy career, she gives a lot of credit to her husband, Kirk Finley.
“I am blessed with a wonderful husband,” Christie Finley said. “He’s my best friend. He’s been supportive. In fact, we do everything together. I drag him to football games and plays. We exercise together, and renovate the house together.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CHRISTIE FINLEY?
“It’s a question for me too,” she said. “This is all I’ve ever known and I’m grateful for that. I want to stay in touch with the education world. But I am planning to take some time. I love to run and want to get back into running. But one of my favorite things to do is cut grass. We have four acres. I love to be outside.”
She says she will continue to be involved in the community and work to give back.
“I hope to be invited back to schools to read to the students, that’s my passion,” she said. “That doesn’t mean in two years I might not return in some capacity.”
Huntsville City Schools is accepting applications for the superintendent position until the end of the week with the board planning to name a new superintendent by the middle of June.
Click Here to Subscribe on YouTube: Watch the latest WAFF 48 news, sports & weather videos on our YouTube channel!
Copyright 2023 WAFF. All rights reserved.