Sunday, July 21, 2013
My Sit down with Superintendent Vitti. Part 4: Vitti’s Picks his Team
Vitti’s Picks his Team
I then asked him about the district leaders who were empowered with making sure the above changes take place. To be honest I felt his picks for area superintendents, Addison Davis, Larry Dennis and Kelly Coker-Daniel, had came from a very small pool and arguably from an area that isn’t highly regarded, i.e., middle school. First, he addressed middle school and said that in the past there hadn’t been much of a vision for its role, but overall he had been pleasantly surprised as he looked at the data that the middle schools were producing. He said from 25 applicants that these three, and Jackson principal Iranetta Wright, had the most articulate vision for improving our schools
This is perhaps my major source of contention with the superintendent. He has all these great plans and a definite vision for the district,, but at the same time, he seems complacent to simply allow elements of it to unfold. Instead of opening it up to an application process, especially here in the county where resumes were inflated under the last administration, I feel the district would have better benefited from a recruitment-type process. Being a great speaker, like being able to pass a test, doesn’t make one a leader. While I am not saying that is the case here, past is often prologue.
I wanted to see a process where he talked to administrators, principals and teachers and got their perspectives and recommendations, rather than just opening up an application process and hoping for the best. I am hopeful they will all be great leaders, but I still have reservations about who was in the superintendent’s ear when he first arrived. If these people are part of the team that got us to where we were at, which was not anywhere near where we should be, then are they the team to take us to the next level?
Maybe I am being to critical of the superintendent. After all, he is not responsible for what happened before he arrived and, like many of us who work in the district and who love our schools, he is paying the price for it. I imagine he has made clear to these instructional leaders that he won’t tolerate bullying and that their role is to support teachers and principals.
If not, he has also shown a complete willingness to make wholesale changes when he deems them necessary, as evidenced by the numerous district demotions and the 46 principal changes. Many of these principal changes came as a shock to the school personnel they lead. No more was this the case than at John E. Ford, a Montessori magnet school that went through four principals in a two-week period. Initially, Jackie Byrd—who soon left for Polk County—replaced Latonya Parker, the outgoing principal. The John E. Ford community rallied around Mrs. Parker and called for a community meeting. While Superintendent Vitti didn’t change his mind about replacing her, he did finally recruit a principal with Montessori experience to head the school.
The John E. Ford community contacted me and I did a few pieces on my blog about what was going on there, so I was somewhat familiar. Their chief complaints were that they didn’t feel involved in the process, and that constant turnover wrecked continuity. Vitti seemed to indicate that, in the future, the district would be more active in reaching out to school communities in order to prevent future consternation, and to involve them in the decisionmaking/problemsolving process. His thoughts about turnover were a bit different. He seemed to take the position that high turnover was simply inevitable.