TCS interviews superintendent candidates

Published 7:46 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2020

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Four candidates have interviewed for the open superintendent position at Troy City Schools.

The Board of Education conducted two nights of interviews on Monday and Tuesday, opening the sessions to the public and providing information via two livestream feeds. Each candidate was given an advance copy of the 17 questions prepared by the board and interviews lasted for one hour each.

Dr. Charla Brenta-Spurlin DeLeo, the first candidate to interview on Monday night, has 18 years of experience as a teacher, administrator and program director with the Clay County Schools in Ashland. Her areas of responsibility there range from special education and curriculum to college and career readiness standards and textbooks.’

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She said she would bring a servant leadership approach to the role of superintendent, acting on behalf of the vision of the Board of Education. And in outlining that vision and the objectives for the district, she cited a recent community -wide Cradle to Career report. “I feel like you have done the majority of the work within the Cradle to Career report your forwarded to us as candidates,” she told the board. “It’s the will of the people … the parents have told you want they need, now you need to get it to them.”

She also urged transparency and commitment to vision, as well as passion and accountability among the administration and the board members, as key requirements for the success of the district.

“If you offer me this opportunity, I am going to be a loyal defender of you all and the system and everybody in it … and I would ask the same of you in return,” she said.

Cynthia Thomas, the current interim superintendent for Troy City Schools, also interviewed on Monday. Thomas is a product of the Troy City Schools and Troy State University, as well as a native in the community. She has 24 years professional experience, as a special education teacher, assistant principal, federal program coordinator and now interim superintendent.

“I have a vested interest in the school system and those years of experience have given me the opportunity to enhance my skill set and have given me the things I need to make sure your vision is implemented,” she told the board.

Thomas said the school district must be committed to success and giving students a meaningful education in order to prepare them for the pathways of life. “I see the superintendent’s role as implementing the vision of the board and making the day-to-day decisions as relates to education, spending, facilities, administration … and to be an advocate on behalf of the board.”

Dr. Allen Johnson, director of student services for Boaz City Schools, has 22 years of professional experience in music education, school administration and system administration. He was the first to interview on Tuesday. In outlining his approach for success at the Troy City Schools, he referenced the “Three As: Academics, Athletics and Arts.” He said while academics are the foundation of the school system’s focus, providing life lessons through athletic programs and arts program is equally important, particularly in the middle and high school level. “Every child needs to be involved in something,” he said.

He also said making sure the strategic plan is “real, and not just a document written on paper” and that it is aligned to the budget is important. “And another focus is school safety. My worst nightmare is not that we get a failing grade on a report card. My worst nightmare is what if something tragic happens in one of my schools … The question is, ‘what are we doing preventative before something happens?’”

On increasing enrollment, Johnson said “you have to provide the best product possible … the parents are going to gravitate toward a quality product. They just will.”

Dr. Zickeyous Byrd,  current Superintendent of the Conecuh County Board of Education in Evergreen, has 21 years of professional experience in elementary instruction, school administration and system leadership.

Byrd’s vision for the district focuses on three Rs and a “T” “Rethinking, reigniting, redesign … those three things will change lives.

For rethinking, “we need to ask ‘is this program working?’ … if there is any inkling of an area we can improve upon, then we need to rethink it.” Passion is at the heart of reigniting. “If you do not have that fire burning down inside you … then you need to reignite that passion.” Teachers, administrators, even the board members must be passionate “because children depend on us coming to work with that 100% mindset.” And redesign means making necessary changes. “Look at what we’re doing … is what we’re doing going to helping us move from 94 percent graduation rate to 100 percent? If not, let’s redo it …

And if we will do those things, then we will transform lives for students.”

Cellon said board members will review the candidates after the interview process and hope to make a recommendation at the regularly scheduled board meeting in July.