Tuesday night’s Metro Nashville School Board meeting was largely focused on the Director of Schools search. After an incredible musical performance by the Glencliff High School mariachi band and recognition of MNPS student achievements, Dr. Sharon Gentry called on Jim Huge, the director of the search firm tasked with recruiting candidates for Director of Schools, to give his report. Dr. Gentry reminded everyone that the recommendations are advisory. She then thanked the search committee and community for providing the search firm with criteria to assess each candidate. She emphasized that this effort was not just a search but an actual recruitment of qualified candidates. Dr. Huge and his team reached out to more than 100 connectors and told them the Nashville story to try to recruit great director candidates. Out of that search, they presented six candidates to the Metro Nashville School Board Members. “I am bringing to you ‘doers’- someone that not only has ideas but also the ability,” explained Dr. Huge.
Names and Highlights from the meeting:
- Joel Boyd is from Santa Fe, New Mexico where he is the Superintendent of Schools. He is an education reformer who has pushed to turn around the Santa Fe district, which has struggled with low graduation rates and school grades.
- Jesus Jara is from Venezuela and currently serves as the Deputy Superintendent in Orange County Public Schools in Florida. He has a first-hand understanding of the needs of second language learners. In Orange County, he has been part of the team that has implemented innovations that make a huge difference for kids. This county received the Broad Award, which is designed for districts who demonstrate significant improvements in student achievement levels.
- Shawn Joseph is from Maryland and is the Deputy Superintendent in Prince George’s County. He worked extensively in both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Both of these counties are extremely diverse, and he brings a lot of knowledge from working in those districts.
- Brad Leon is from Tennessee, where he serves as the Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer for Shelby County. He is responsible for the I-Zone implementation in Memphis. He also has deep knowledge and experience in academics and instruction.
- H. Allen Smith is the Deputy Superintendent in Oakland, California. He previously served in two districts cited by the search committee as successful examples of turnaround efforts: Denver and Charlotte/Mecklenberg. He has experience as a principal and as an area superintendent. Interestingly, the Mayor of Denver wrote a recommendation for him that highlighted Mr. Smith’s high personal ethics and that emphasized Smith’s ability to build community support, something the Nashville community desires.
- Ken Jeff is from Georgia and is the Interim Superintendent of Fulton County, Georgia. He was in charge of creating what they called 100 “public charter schools” which are a decentralized model of school governance that has been successfully implemented in Fulton County.
The interviews for these candidates will be on Thursday, May 5, 2016. Then, the field will be narrowed to three candidates on Friday, May 6, 2016. Next week, the final three candidates will take part in community conversations with members of the Nashville community on May 10, May 11 and May 12. For more information about the candidates and these meetings, click here.