I just returned from the long meeting at the board of education where each of the candidates was given 20 questions selected from those submitted by audience members before the meeting began. Personally, I was very impressed with all three candidates and it gave me great hope for the future of our school system. Overall, the candidates each expressed dedication to students first and foremost, teacher and principal training and fiscal responsibility.
These are my impressions from the interviews:
First at the podium was Gloria Davis, Superintendent of Decatur (Illinois) Public Schools. An outgoing and engaging woman, Ms. Davis conveyed a strong knowledge of curriculum and instruction, viewing herself as the instructional leader for the district. She had many years of classroom experience as well as more as an administrator. She focused on being data-driven and fair. She had a very strong persona, projecting that she was a happy, cheerful and pragmatic person. She was a very good speaker and would be a strong leader.
Next, Arthur Culver, Superintendent of Champaign (Illinois) Community Unit School District #4 responded to exactly the same 20 questions with similar answers but a bit more detailed. Mr. Culver had a steady, calm demeanor with a gift for articulating his thoughts. He seemed very knowledgeable and very caring. A former special education teacher, he had a kind and compassionate way of speaking, but he was also firm in sticking with data-driven results and hard work. He sees our system as having a great deal of potential, saying we are "primed to become a beacon for the state". He would be an inspiring, fair and down-to-earth leader.
Last, Dr. Lillie Cox, Superintendent of Hickory (North Carolina) Public Schools took to the podium, and unhooked the mic, being the only candidate to walk around the stage a bit while answering the 20 questions. She spoke about being a moral and ethical leader, dedicated to teachers and principals. She said she has a "laser-like focus on children" and is committed to evaluating teachers and principals regularly, identifying those who excel, those who show potential and those who need support, or could be asked to try another field. She came across as very well-informed in methodology and seemed to have a firm grasp on teaching and learning. In fact, she was rather brilliant in that arena.
All three seemed sincerely devoted to children, knowledgeable of their craft as all have long teaching credentials, interesting, poised and ready to get to work. All three seemed to have a better grasp of fiscal budgets than anyone else we've had. The board will have a tough time making the final selection. I very much look forward to the day we start anew!