Checking in with Dr. Susan Patterson, Cullman City Schools Superintendent

Courtesy of Cullman City Schools
Dr. Susan Patterson (Courtesy of Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN – Back in June 2015, there was quite the shakeup in the local education community when Dr. Doreen Griffeth resigned her position as Cullman City Schools (CCS) superintendent and Dr. Susan Patterson, then director of federal programs and career tech for CCS, was named interim superintendent. On Oct. 9, 2015, Patterson, a lifetime resident of Cullman County, was officially appointed CCS superintendent.

Now, more than seven months later, and with a contract that stretches to June 2019, Patterson has her eyes set on the future of CCS.

Patterson has spent more than 25 years as a classroom teacher, technology coordinator, library media specialist, school administrator and district administrator.  She has 12 years in administration and was an elementary and middle school principal before becoming a district-level administrator.

Patterson is a 2011 graduate of the University of Alabama’s Alabama Superintendents Academy, earned her doctoral degree in Education Administration in 2004 from the University of Alabama and possesses an Educational Specialist degree in Librarianship. Through Harvard University, Patterson is a trained facilitator of Instructional Rounds: A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning. She is also a nationally certified principal mentor through NAESP and served as the state coordinator for the Doing What Works Initiative from the U.S. Department of Education.

Patterson said that although all of her training and previous experience have helped her in her new position, her time spent in school administration has been the most beneficial.

“As a veteran principal, serving eight years, I learned both the necessary management skills along with how to lead quality instruction that raises student achievement,” she said.

During her time in the interim superintendent position, she developed a five-year plan for CCS:

  • Maintain rigorous instruction, expanding college and career opportunities and providing real world contextual based learning
  • Maintain the efficient use of funds to support the high value offered to students as demonstrated by academic achievement and technology advancements
  • Provide adequate facilities and services that address current and future student growth and needs
  • Maintain highly qualified personnel who are equipped with best practice strategies and skills through continued professional development

The plan consists of four goals, three of which include the word “maintain,” suggesting that Patterson hopes not to fix something that isn’t broken. The Cullman City school system is considered to be one of the best in the state. So good, in fact, that its effectiveness has limited the growth of private schools throughout Cullman’s history.

Patterson said she has not had any major difficulties as superintendent.

“We have not had any major challenges thus far, but the school board members and myself have been working diligently to both maintain and strengthen the excellence of our school system.”

As of right now, Patterson’s main goal is to ensure that the school system can handle the flourishing growth of Cullman from an academic standpoint.

“Currently, through our strategic plan, we are working to address our enrollment in the elementary grades. Our city has seen tremendous growth and revitalization since the tornadoes of April 2011, and with that we want to ensure our facilities are well prepared to handle the current enrollment and successfully account for our future growth,” she said.

For more information on CCS, visit