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DeKalb Superintendent Atkinson replaced by former Georgia labor commissioner

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Staff writers Aaron Gould Sheinin, Nancy Badertscher and Kristina Torres contributed to this article.

Michael Thurmond

Education: Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion from Paine College; juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law. He also completed the Political Executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Career: An attorney and author, in 1986 he became the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. In 1997, he became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. He was elected Georgia Labor Commissioner in 1998 and served three terms in that office.

Family, personal life, etc.: Thurmond and his wife Zola have a daughter, Mikaya. He is a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church West of Athens. One of Thurmond’s books, “Freedom: Georgia’s Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865” was awarded the Georgia Historical Society’s Lilla Hawes Award and the Georgia Center for the Book listed Freedom as one of The 25 Books All Georgians Should Read. He has served on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society.

Cheryl Atkinson

Education: Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic & State University and undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Career: Before term as DeKalb superintendent, she was superintendent of the Lorain City Schools in Ohio. Before that, deputy superintendent of the Kansas City, Mo., schools; a regional and then associate superintendent in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district; associate superintendent of Charleston County schools; staff development director and then executive director curriculum services of Rockdale County schools in Georgia; a principal at schools in Orlando and Hampton, Va.; an assistant principal in Suffolk, Va.; and nearly a decade teaching in Virginia, Kansas, South Carolina and North Carolina, interrupted by a year as curriculum coordinator at the University of Kansas

Family, personal life, etc.: Her husband Terrence is a retired construction manager. She has three grown sons, the youngest a graduate of Stephenson High School in DeKalb, and a grown stepson. Her hometown is Dayton. Atkinson discovered in a graduate school lecture that she had symptoms of dyslexia and realized that she’d learned to cope with help from her grandmother, a teacher, who drilled her as a child during summer visits.

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