Boyd, Hicks interview for superintendent job

Published 11:00 pm Monday, June 20, 2011

Visibility, communication and setting championship expectations were the priorities of the two men who interviewed Monday for the Troy City Schools superintendent position.

Dr. Boyd English, principal at Emanuel City Schools n Twin Cities, Ga., said being visible at all levels – in the community, in the schools – is critical for the next superintendent.

“The challenge any superintendent will have are the same challenges a principal will have: learning the stakeholders, the faculty, the students and being visible,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but on the flip side it’s an opportunity.”

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English said visibility at the superintendent level is paramount to promote the schools. “The visibility of your educational leaders is critical, and I don’t mean just going to football games or choral events. Once or twice a week I go to a local restaurant to eat breakfast and just talk to people … to be a part of the community.”

English was the first of two candidates to interview on Monday. Lee Hicks, principal at Prattville High School was the second.

“It’s not just about having extracurricular activities.We expect championships and our goal is to graduate champions,” Hicks said of the philosophy he has built during his tenure at Prattville High, adding that the school doesn’t settle for mediocrity “on the athletic field or on the band field.”

Hicks said the greatest potential for improvement at the Troy City Schools would be instilling that same expectation. “I say this with no disrespect to previous administrations, but there’s no reason a private school should be taking public school students and attempting to educate them … If you make schools safe, offer quality programs, and stress the expectations, people should want to move to Troy and choose to attend the public schools.”

And, in turn, he said, that will benefit the community. “Whenever a school system is top notch, that is a catalyst to brining in industry.”

English also addressed the public-private school issue, when asked by a board member how he would react to employees at Troy City Schools allowing their children to attend private schools.

“Wow. I don’t like it at all,” English said. “But that goes back to my statement about making the private schools in the area irrelevant … we have to raise the bar.”

Both Hicks and English talked about their vested interests in the success of the Troy City Schools: their own children who will attend the schools they lead.

And, both men talked about their work ethic and commitment to leadership.

“I will work for you and I will make you proud,” English said.

“I will roll up my sleeves and get to work. There’s some simplicity in what I’ve told you … but in simplicity there’s depth…

“I pledge to you, and it goes to every question here tonight, that we will teach for character and success. That keeps it simple, but it gives us a mission.”

For Hicks, struggling to create a safe school for 2,000-plus students and instilling a championship mentality in the face of limited public funding has been a challenge, but one he said helped prepare him for the challenges a superintendent would likely face.

“I’ve been able to maintain an ‘A’ school on ‘F’ funding,” he said. “Finances are just not something we’re going to accept as an excuse.”

And, he said, the key is to “never lose focus of what is truly important … educating the students.”

The final interview of the five finalists takes place at 5:30 p.m. today, with Alexis Seymore, superintendent of the Dawson Springs School District in Dawson Springs, Ky. Dr. Mike Hall, principal at Pike County High School, and Dr. Alan Miller, director of special education in the Eufaula City Schools, interviewed on Thursday.

The school board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in a called work session to review the interviews.