- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—The Maury County School Board interviewed its first three candidates Monday to fill the director of schools position.

Candidates included Lauderdale County, Alabama, School System Assistant Superintendent Tim Tubbs; Blue Valley, Kansas, School District School Administration Executive Director William “Tony” Lake; and Knox County Schools Chief Academic Officer Elizabeth Ferreira-Alves.

Each potential hire interviewed with the 11 school board members for more than an hour at the Horace O. Porter School in Columbia.

Tubbs interviewed first. His district consists of 8,300 students. By contrast, MCPS has 21 schools and about 12,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The director’s job should involve a lot of visitation in schools, meeting with department heads, teachers, administrators and parents. The director cannot just shut his or her office door and avoid the community, he said.

“Communication is the most important tool of any organization,” Tubbs said. “They have to understand that we all have to be in this together.”

Every school should have a quality instructor in the classroom, he added.

“I am not going to give up on that child. I will never give up. I want them to be successful,” Tubbs said.

The director and school board has to show the county commission the needs of the district, which will help get maintenance projects funded, he said.

Lake was the second interviewee and comes from a district of 22,000 students.

Lake said he would like to set personal growth and academic growth goals in students while creating personalized learning with the appropriate staff.

“Kids want to be successful. They don’t want to fail,” he said. “If I am the person (chosen to serve) here, then we are going to be relentless in our pursuit of excellence.”

If he were hired, Lake said he would take 60 days to tour the district, meet with the public and get input. The director needs to develop a “culture of collaboration,” he said.

Part of that is keeping the school board informed through weekly communications, he said.

“I think it’s my job to make sure that you are never caught off guard in the community. If it does, then shame on me,” Lake said.

Ferreira-Alves finished out the first day of interviews Monday. She comes from a district with 59,000 students.

She also saw the need to be highly visible in the community, but added that teachers should be heavily involved in the district’s decision-making process.

Ferreira-Alves suggested having regular teacher forums and interactions with instructors as a way to improve dialog.

“Technology really opens the door for easy communication,” she said. “When it comes down to it, it’s about kids and doing what is right for the children.”

Education should be personalized and cater to each individual child’s needs, Ferreira-Alves said. While testing is one part of figuring that out, it is only one indicator of a student’s success, she said.

When asked about the condition of schools and how it affects students, Ferreira-Alves said the facility has some play in a child’s learning.

“A building is bricks and mortar. Education really comes back to the instruction in the classroom,” she said.

The school board will continue interviews Tuesday and Wednesday.


(c)2015 The Daily Herald (Columbia, Tenn.)

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