Thursday, November 20, 2008

MCSD Superintendent Candidate Dr. Felicia Mitchell

Candidate #1 Dr. Felicia Mitchell

On Thursday evening, there was the first of three scheduled Public Forums with the three choices for School Superintendent.Our First candidate was Dr. Felicia MitchellShe has been a teacher, an Asst. Principal, a Principal and has worked at the District level for a number of years.She was delighted to see the big turnout of concerned citizens and appreciated what she called "Questions before the Marriage". She was asked a variety of questions from the citizens attending and I think she did a great job answering them.Here were some of the discussionsWith Her Experience in Education, What has she done to help improve student achievement, graduation rates, and AYP?First off there must be an identification of what is needed so that she can diagnose the needs which will help her formulate her Prescription for Instruction. And she said it is very important to not just focus on the failures, but focus and see where you have succeeded as well, as she put it "Learn from both ends of the Spectrum" meaning to look at both flaws and successes. She went on to talk about how No Child Left Behind pinpointed subgroups to ensure standards are adhered to in all parts of the schooling.The one thing she said to help increased graduation rate is "Don't wait till the End". She said we need to be identifying these problem areas much earlier than 10th and 11th grade. We should be monitoring them from the beginning, so we can progressively work to improve those areas in the beginning, instead of waiting till the it’s too late to help them turn it around.As for AYP, she said she will be hands on in each of those eleven schools working to help get them back on target and certified.Another person asked about funding for the Music Program and re-instating the position of Director of Music and how she felt about the arts.She said a "World without arts is like Fall without colors on leaves" She said ARTS are "Critical". "Must have the arts programs, it must be nurtured" She went on to say "Research shows students stimulated by the arts do well and perform well in the classroom". She ended by saying "Cannot expect success without inspiration from Arts"She commended Muscogee County for having a 92% student attendance rate and 100% students in testing participation. She said with schools with "Chronic Concerns" she will go to these schools and help guide using "School Keys" and indications of working with all roles involved (teacher, principal, student, and parents) to help create a successful school.She believes in Communication. While discussing Development within she said it is a "well communicated process" She said she has to "Listen to where the pain is". She believes a strong mentoring program should be in place to help those aspire to becoming leaders. She stated, "Leadership takes place before a promotion" She said you have to earn it and really take charge. She said Mentoring, On Job Sampling, Clear Expectations, and Training go into developing good leaders within the school system. And she said of concerns addressed from within will be heard, but must follow a chain of command. She is "Very Careful with Respect" to both parties. She listens to every person and their needs.She also addressed Special Needs students. She said we have to address the needs child by child. But she does not believe in segregating the students because as she pointed out Special Needs students who spend more time un-segregated, do better testing wise. She feels their needs can still be met while being included in open education.When asked What does she look for when she comes into a school, She said "Engagement and Evidence of Learning" And Cleanliness was a pet peeve as well. She wants not only to see how teachers teach, but also, how students are learning. She said it is always an "Ongoing Assessment of Performance"She said she wants to know from the stakeholders (you and I)1. What is it you want to see, stay the same?2. What is it you want to see change and be addressed?She said it’s very important for her not to tamper with the good things, so she wants to know what they are, and why you think they are working. She said we must make a "Careful recording" of items going well and items that need to be addressed.She said she will work well to keep not only citizens informed but also the press as well, so they can report to us and it not come as a shock to the citizens when it suddenly comes out. She believes firmly in Open Communication. She doesn't believe in waiting for the crisis, so she intends there to be transparency to the media and the citizens of Columbus.For the first Forum, I must say I was impressed with Dr. Mitchell. I think she is a great applicant for this position of Superintendent. I look forward to hearing from the other two next week. I hope to see everyone there.