Community gathers to outline criteria for superintendent search

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Fri., Feb. 7, 2014
Dr. Carolyn Burke from the New England School Development Council met with about 40 residents to record attributes they are looking for in a new superintendent. Craig Cooke has been the interim superintendent sine Dr. Jeffrey Villar exited the position mid-school year. Photo by Jennifer Coe.
Dr. Carolyn Burke from the New England School Development Council met with about 40 residents to record attributes they are looking for in a new superintendent. Craig Cooke has been the interim superintendent sine Dr. Jeffrey Villar exited the position mid-school year. Photo by Jennifer Coe.

Residents accepted an invitation put out by the school district and came to L.P. Wilson Community Center on Jan. 28 to outline the characteristics sought in a new superintendent.

The search for a new school leader had to begin again when Dr. Jeffrey Villar exited the position after only being on the job for just over a year.

The New England School Development Council was on hand to walk residents through a brainstorming session and will be assisting Windsor with this process until someone is hired.

Residents offered characteristics that are important to them, and Dr. Carolyn Burke, a representative from NESDC, wrote them on a board. As parents spoke up, it was clear that they are seeking a new leader who will come to Windsor ready to work hard and view Windsor with new eyes.

Parents emphatically shared the need for a superintendent to deal with the achievement gap facing minority students in town.

“Someone who can demonstrate the ability to recruit and attract minority teachers,” said one mother.

“Someone who deals with the achievement gap head-on,” said another parent.

Another parent spoke to a more specific quality. She would like to see the superintendent that is hired be someone who “understands diversity and will honor a family’s religious or moral values.”

Other parents offered up other attributes such as that the superintendent should be someone who is willing to work with the media to promote the positive things that the students of Windsor accomplish, and that he or she is someone who has experience at all three levels of education: elementary, middle and secondary.

As far as personality or professional style goes, residents are looking for someone who is humble, knows the children’s names, is open-minded, friendly and believes in all students. One mother asked that he be someone like “Mr. Sills,” while another suggested, “We need a rock star.” Even Justin Timberlake’s name was jokingly offered as a candidate.

But all joking aside, none of this conversation should be too unfamiliar to anyone involved. Back in 2011, NESDC held a similar focus group when Windsor was in the process of hiring someone to replace former superintendent Elizabeth Feser.

The 2011 document read: “The new superintendent of schools should be able to work collaboratively with community groups, parents, students and staff to raise the achievement of all students and to close the district’s achievement gap.”  The 2011 focus group participants also asked for a superintendent who “listens, learns, is approachable, and who seeks out and establishes open lines of communication with all stakeholders; someone technologically savvy who is able to communicate promptly.”

Windsor is slotted to begin reviewing applications for this position in late February. The new superintendent is expected to begin in July of 2014.

NESDC has been assisting school districts in finding leaders in education since 1982.


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