Vision, Passion, and Connectivity: Advise to Area Superintendents
Athens, W.Va. - Concord College hosted a “Superintendent’s Symposium” for superintendents from 11 counties in southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. Those attending from West Virginia included: Fayette, Dr. Manuel Domingues; Mercer, Dr. Debra Akers; McDowell, Dr. Mark Manchin; Monroe, Dr. Rebecca Allen; Raleigh, Dr. Connie Giammerion; Summers, Dr. Vicki Hinerman and Wyoming, Dr. Frank "Bucky" Blackwell. Those from Virginia included: Bland, Dr. Duane Alderman and Tazewell, Dr. Brenda Lawson and Dr. Bob Brown.
Faculty from Concord’s Unit for Teacher Education, Dr. Darrin Martin and Dr. Thomas Brewster, both assistant professors of education, organized the symposium.
Dr. Thomas Shortt, an alumnus of Concord, was the keynote speaker. Dr. Shortt has had an illustrious career in education, ranging from classroom teacher to assistant state superintendent of Virginia. He also coauthored a book entitled The Complete Handbook of Block Scheduling. Currently, Dr. Shortt is the executive director of The Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals where he has done extensive research on educational leadership and the state of the principalship.
Dr. Shortt explained the importance of passion, vision, and connectivity to the audience.
“When you have passion,” he stated, “you will see things happen. You will see heros created and watch ideas unfold and take shape.
“It is important for administrators to have a vision, to see the big picture, to see beyond the day-to-day problems. A successful leader is one who sees more than other see, who sees further than others see, and who sees before others do.” Regarding connectivity he said that it is important to connect staff development and meetings with what you want to achieve in your school system.
“We learned that we need to be doing the same thing in teacher education that Dr. Shortt suggested to the superintendents,” stated Dr. Tom Brewster. “Collaboration is all about finding out what superintendents, principals and teachers are concerned about and disseminating that knowledge to our pre-service teachers so they are prepared when they begin teaching.”
After the keynote address, Dr. Brewster divided the superintendents into four groups. Each group listed their top concerns and issues which included student achievement, unfunded mandates, personnel shortages as experienced teachers are replaced by inexperienced teachers, lack of content knowledge by some teachers, high stress, political and public relations issues dealing with “no child left behind,” and loss of local control. By consensus, the groups determined that accountability, lack of proper funding, and aging of current personnel were their top three concerns.
“Working in tandum with Concord College would be beneficial,” suggested Vickie Hinerman of Summers County.
“We need better communication between colleges and local school systems,” stated Dr. Frank Blackwell of Wyoming County.
“It is important to understand the community in which we work,” commented Mercer County Superintendent Debra Akers.
Concord President Jerry Beasley stated that, “Concord College can help with student achievement and teacher recruitment. Our teacher education department is a young faculty and there is a lot of energy and passion in this group. We would like to integrate area tours and other things into our program, so our student teachers understand your communities. This will allow us to meet your needs.”
Photo #1: President Jerry Beasley, Concord College; Dr. Manuel Domingues, Fayette; Dr. Frank "Bucky" Blackwell, Wyoming; Dr. Vicki Hinerman, Summers; Dr. Debra Akers, Mercer; Dr. Duane Alerman, Bland; Dr. Brenda Lawson, Tazewell; Dr. Connie Giammerino, Raleigh; Dr. Thomas Shortt, Speaker for the Symposium and Dr. Bob Brown, Tazewell.
Photo #2: President Jerry Beasley and Assistant Professors of Education Darrin Martin and Thomas Brewster