And then there will be three.
Members of the Madison School Board will narrow the field of candidates for the next superintendent of the school district from five to three late today. School Board President Arlene Silveira said she expected that the three final candidates would be named sometime late this afternoon or early evening, following three candidate interviews today and two on Friday.
The five candidates are: Bart Anderson, county superintendent of the Franklin County Educational Service Center in Columbus, Ohio; Steve Gallon, district administrative director of the Miami/Dade Public Schools; James McIntyre, chief operating officer of the Boston Public Schools; Daniel Nerad, superintendent of schools, Green Bay Public Schools and Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, chief academic officer, Racine Public School District.
The Capital Times asked candidates why they would like to come to Madison and what accomplishments have given them pride in their careers. Anderson, McIntyre and Vanden Wyngaard were interviewed by phone, and Nerad responded by e-mail. Steve Gallon did not respond to several calls asking for his answers to the two questions.
Anderson said he had two reasons for wanting to come to Madison.
“First and foremost, Madison has a very special story to tell regarding its history of achievement both in its school district and in its community. In addition, the assets Madison has with the combination of the state capital and the university community very much align with the creative class environment I find very appealing. I think my skills and experiences match the needs of the district, and we could both benefit,” Anderson said.
He said that the development of partnerships with the University of Ohio and the school districts he helps supervise in the Columbus area are a particular source of pride for him, especially programs that allow students to enroll in university classes while still in high school. He also points to a support team he helped develop that travels to area schools to help them make the adequate yearly progress necessary under federal No Child Left Behind law. The support teams have been so successful, he said, that the state is replicating them in other parts of Ohio.
Gallon is an administrative director of school operations with the Miami/Dade Public Schools, which serves about 350,000 students. He grew up in Liberty City, one of the Miami area’s toughest neighborhoods, and has worked as a teacher, principal, author, lecturer and administrator. He is one of southern Florida’s most sought after motivational speakers. In 2001 he was recognized as one of eight outstanding Americans in an issue of the College Board Review entitled “Heroes of a Different Kind.”
Gallon has an undergraduate degree in English from Florida A&M University, a master’s in educational leadership from Florida International University and a doctor of education degree in administration from Florida International University. (Gallon did not return several phone calls asking for responses to Capital Times questions).
McIntyre says that it’s easy to want to come to Madison.
“I’m quite delighted, actually. It has a wonderful reputation as a community and as an excellent school district,” he said. He added that the district provides the opportunity to build on historic success, rather than trying to turn around struggling schools. McIntyre said he’s been fortunate to work with some of the top urban school administrators in the country in Boston and would look forward to bringing the skills he learned there to Madison.
As chief operating officer and former budget director for Boston’s public schools, McIntyre says he has focused on the district’s educational goals as he’s managed its resources. “Of course it’s about how we can do our work efficiently and effectively, but it’s more important to put that in a context that enables and supports student achievement. It’s about creating a culture in every department that’s student-centered. It’s not just about buses or buildings.”
During McIntyre’s tenure in Boston, the district won the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education.
In response to the question about why he wanted to come to Madison, Nerad wrote:
Serving as superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District would allow me to return to a community that has special meaning in my life. My undergraduate and first graduate degree were both from the UW-Madison, and our two children are also graduates. Our son continues to live and work in Madison.
Like Green Bay, Madison is a community that cares about its children, focused on improving learning for all students while addressing the elimination of specific achievement gaps. This is where I place my heart as a leader.
For his answer to the question regarding what made him proud in his current work, Nerad continued in his e-mail:
Leaders don’t work alone. Everything I have accomplished has been done with a great, dedicated staff. I am most proud about our staff’s child-centered values and focus on ensuring that all students are successful, both academically and socially. Educating children is a team effort across the board.
Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard
Vanden Wyngaard believes Madison is a community with a reputation for facing many of the hard questions in American education, including issues like student achievement, social class, disability and race. “If a community is willing to deal with these things, so am I,” she said.
In fact, she added, “My mission on this planet is to eliminate the notion that we can predict the success of our students based on factors like race, language, class, sexual orientation, disability or where they come from. I think Madison is already successfully working on some of these issues.”
Vanden Wyngaard, who’s known as Dr. V, says she is proud of helping create meaningful change at the middle and high school levels in three different districts, including public schools in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Cleveland and Willow Run, Ohio.
In order to move the process forward, she said, it’s necessary to be able to bring together different stakeholders, from business leaders to staff, students and parents. She said she is also proud of work in Racine that will enhance professional development and increase student engagement.