2 BOE candidates interviewed
by Elsie Hodnett
PELL CITY – The Board of Education interviewed two of the four candidates for the position of superintendent of Pell City schools Monday night.

Allen Martin, assistant superintendent for the Baldwin County Board of Education in Milledgeville, Ga., was the first to interview for the position.

Martin said long-range planning is essential to anything done in a school system.

“We must look at what we need to do and involve every stakeholder,” he said. “You need representation from each group to make a successful plan. You also need to get with the community to see what they find important. One example, that took place before my time, was that one road has five schools on it, which makes traffic a nightmare. A better plan would be to include the community to serve their needs.”

Martin said he feels the Pell City School System has good facilities.

“Make planning an open process all along,” he said. “Don’t plan in private then unroll it. It needs to be transparent.”

Martin said he feels baseline or benchmark testing would benefit the Pell City School System.

“I recommend testing three times a year, because that is what I do,” he said. “You can be proactive and monitor students with testing three times a year.”

Martin said the extra testing could help catch problems early on so they can be corrected sooner rather than later.

In dealing with professional relationships, Martin said he feels honesty is important.

“I’m not a fan of behind closed door meetings,” he said. “People in the system need to believe what you are saying. If your employees don’t believe then you have a breakdown in communication. Surround yourself with good people—as you have here. Then be transparent for everyone to see and believe. Be honest and do what is best for the system overall and for the students.

Martin said professional training is essential to help the staff grow.

“Every school has a teacher who is great at something,” he said. “The more you train, the better you are. Don’t be pigeon-holed. Exposure to new things can help you find better ways of doing things.”

Martin said he believes in post-graduate training.

“Go out and learn, then bring it back to train others,” he said.

Gayle Gober, principal for Hueytown High School in Birmingham, interviewed second.

“Having a vision is important for long-range planning,” she said. “As a principal, I’m looking 10 years down the line.”

Gober said use all stakeholders, not just the school or community.

“Plan to meet today’s goals with a vision for what you want the school system to be down the line,” she said.

Gober said data is the basis for everything in developing, implementing and improving curriculum.

“Data is used to help individualize plans for students,” she said. “High school is more difficult because there are fewer programs out there, but we went from looking at 11th and 12th grade students with reading difficulties and began addressing those issues in the 9th grade. We also had a lot of remediation classes, but they were not personalized. Now, we do goal setting per student and that has been most successful.”

Gober said staying informed at the classroom level is important in dealing with relationships and accountability.

“I’ve been there, so I know what good teaching looks like,” she said. “Use monitoring and feedback and professional guidance if necessary. We are all there for the students. If a teacher isn’t, then perhaps it’s time for them to rethink their career.”

Gober said she strongly believes in professional development.

“Everything is constantly changing,” she said. “We do research and book studies on a local level. The faculty do a book study refresher on good teaching skills. Simultaneously, my assistant principals do a book study on supervision of the arts and science of teaching. We do workshops as well, in addition to faculty and staff meetings.”

Gober said the most effective way to lead a school system is to circle the wagons.

“Bring in all the stakeholders so all can work on the same page,” she said. “We have to work effectively together to move forward in the vision for the system.”

Gober said it is important for the community to know and be involved in school priorities.

“The role of superintendent is to be one of the biggest cheerleaders for the schools,” she said. “The superintendent should get out and know the community—hear what the people want and what is important.”

School Board President Tammie Williams said the two final interviews will take place tonight at the CenturlyLink building at 1000 Bruce Etheridge Parkway. James Hethcox, founder and senior consultant for Educare Inc. in Sylacauga, will interview at 5 p.m. Pell City School System Assistant Superintendent Michael Barber will interview at 6 p.m.

Contact Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.

© 2013