Dr. Mike Looney

ATLANTA (CBS46) -- One of the state’s largest school districts has a new leader. Fulton County Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney started on the job this week, but his passion for the job is already undeniable.

“This is a district with a lot of good things happening, and a lot of promise,” Looney said in a one-on-one interview with CBS46.

Looney’s professional path didn’t start in education. He served as a U.S. Marine, but was honorably discharged after a service-related injury. It was a job as a substitute teacher shortly after that led him to his love of teaching.

“I started thinking about how the military experience I had and the classroom experiences I was having as a sub were more similar than not. It’s about serving other people,” he explains.

Now, Dr. Looney is serving students and teachers in a district twice as large as his former school system in Tennessee. That comes with some challenges, including disparities in economics and achievement across Fulton County.

“While we're a big district, its critically important to focus on the individual child. And 96,000 individual humans who have different needs and different interests,” he says.

It is those interests that connect Looney to his students, both in the classroom and on social media. His more than 40,000 twitter followers are proof of Looney’s ability to embrace new media.

“It is important to talk to students in the forum they talk in. I think it is a learning tool that we can teach students to appropriately engage in the world,” says Looney.

With just under two months before the school year officially begins, he says he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.

“Parents want the same thing here as they want in any other district, and that is they want every opportunity for success, to grow,” he explains.

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