Central Montcalm superintendent interviews continue, wrap up today

By Lori Hansen • Last Updated 11:51 am on Tuesday, July 22, 2014

STANTON — The Central Montcalm Public School Board of Education interviewed two more candidates for the district’s superintendent post.

Six of seven board members were present to interview Herve Dardis, high school principal at Ostego Public Schools, and Andrew R. Shaw, former superintendent (through April) of Pittsford Area Schools.

“Following the interviews, we will have a short meeting to possibly decide on two or three candidates,” said Board President Roxanne Switzer.“Then we decide how we want to proceed.”

The process may be to do on-site visits, or to call the candidates back for a second interview.

“We have a lot of strong candidates, and it is going to be a hard decision,” Switzer added.

The candidates first gave a brief introduction, sharing their career paths, before being quizzed by the board.

Questions pertained to how to help small districts survive in rough economic times, how prior experiences help make a good superintendent, the role of technology in today’s schools and the role of the superintendent in budget decisions.

Dardis, who has worked on the American Indian Reservation in Arizona and at Otsego Public Schools during his 29 years in education, said one of his strengths is building relationships with others: administrators, principals, teachers and mostly the students.

“It is important that everyone in the district — teachers, principals, cooks, custodians, bus drivers, everyone — work on building relationships with the kids. You do this first, and then everything else can be accomplished,” Dardis said.

Technology is the world today’s children live in and should be used in schools, he said.

“It must be planned strategically so that kids know the expectations. The more we use it, the better, but it must also be used wisely and correctly,” Dardis said.

The same principle goes for social media, where prevention of inappropriate social media is better than having a reaction later after a student has stepped over the line, Dardis said.

Student assessment is important, but “sometimes we need to teach less and learn more,” said Dardis, “One of the best things is working with a student and love it when the magic starts to happen.”

Shaw, who has worked as a first grade teacher, a high school football and basketball coach, a middle school girls track coach, principal and superintendent, resigned from his position as Pittsford Area School in April.

“Experience-wise, there isn’t much I haven’t had to deal with in some shape or form. The worst thing I could do is come in here and make big changes. I need to listen, listen, and listen more,” said Shaw, who presented the board with his 60-day plan, should he receive the position.

“Technology is a tool, just like a textbook, but it does not replace a good teacher. Technology assists and expedites good teaching,” Shaw said.

Shaw’s thoughts on assessments are they important, and districts need to know the results, but hesitates to settle on only one assessment.

“Kids come to school with different baggage on different days,” he said. “They are needed but let’s keep it in reason.”

Though a superintendent is in a leadership role, when it comes to decision-making, the leader must also pose questions, he said.

“I don’t know the history of Central Montcalm yet,” Shaw said, “But each district has its ‘glue’ people. The ‘glue’ people are the ones who help holds things together here, and the ones I would go to for help in making decisions. But I also know that at the end of the day, if I have to make the final decision, I will.”

A third interview session is scheduled for tonight with Charles P. Muncatchy, the former superintendent of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy,  at 5:30 p.m. and Beaverton Middle School Principal Jeffrey M. Budge at 7 p.m.

The board previously interviewed Roche E. LaVictor, principal of Discovery Middle School with Plymouth-Canton Community Schools and Peter W. Bush Jr., principal of Coopersville Area Public High School.

Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.

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