After a long interview process Saturday, the Wilson County Board of Education emerged with its two finalists for the vacant director of schools position.
Trousdale County Director of Schools Clint Satterfield and Assistant Superintendent of Williamson County Schools Donna Wright emerged from the candidate pool as the top contenders. Each was asked a series of questions on topics ranging from leadership style to social media.
Satterfield described his style as “hands-on.”
“I have to know how it works. It’s the people in the trenches that know how it works, and they usually have an answer and solution.”
Wright said she considered herself to “have a collaborative style. It’s a whole lot easier if you’ve got people alongside you. I’m committed to build leadership in others. I find that there’s a better commitment as far as people that know you believe in them.”
The candidates offered differing views in the social media arena.
“If you’ve got a question about anything that we’re doing, we have an open door policy. We can communicate much better face to face than we can on Facebook or Twitter,” Satterfield said. “But we do have a Facebook page, and all we do is promote our school district. We have a kid winning the science fair, we’ll put that on there. Parents and the community love to see one thing and one thing only - they want to see the kids.”
In a similar statement, Wright mentioned promoting students “whether it’s bragging about individual students or school accomplishments – you put the message out there and get it out there in a prominent way.”
In contrast to Satterfield, however, Wright was much more open to using social media as a communication tool.
“It’s one that we can either embrace it, or fight the battle as far as how it’s being misused and abused. And I want to embrace it at a very early time because you use it to your advantage.”
Perhaps the most anticipated question of the day for all of the candidates, board Chairman Don Weathers asked about student testing. In particular, the SAT 10 test for students in kindergarten through second grade as it relates to Common Core.
“For your early testing, we chose to stay with SAT 10 as well this year, and there was a great rub with teachers. They’re teaching the Common Core standards, which is exactly what we told them to do, what their supposed to do. Yet, we’re giving them this SAT 10 test, which is a norm reference test.”
In addition to not being criteria based, the SAT 10 has also been widely criticized for not aligning with the Common Core standards, which Satterfield said he has heard from his teachers.
“Before this time, we had no assessment whatsoever on our kids,” Satterfield said. “We need this data so that we can help students before they enter third grade as opposed to after they’ve taken TCAP.”
Wright held a slightly different view.
“Where we are with testing right now, we are at a good place. We do not need to add any more. And I am not a proponent of testing K-2. One thing I am an advocate of doing is just in time – as far as whether we’re looking at instruction or whatever that might be, making sure that we don’t leave any kid here that lacks understanding.”
Each of the finalists will have an additional interview May 3 at the Central Office, and Weathers hopes to announce the new director at the board’s monthly meeting May 5.