Though Shaker Schools is still months away from picking a replacement for outgoing superintendent Mark Freeman, the district has established the type of candidate it is looking for.
Illinois-based executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates is helping the district along the way, and a representative attended a Shaker school board meeting Tuesday night to share results of the company's efforts thus far.
Dr. Marvin Edwards, a senior associate at HYA who has worked for districts in Illinois, Texas and Virginia, presented the "leadership profile" the consultant put together after spending time in the Shaker community. The profile is based on the responses HYA received in a recent two-day series of one-on-one interviews and meetings with various teachers, community leaders, residents students and parents from throughout the district. Results from an online survey were also incorporated into the search firm's report.
In all, more than 500 Shaker stakeholders participated in the process. Edwards presented it to the board and a crowd of district employees at the upper cafeteria of Shaker Heights High School.
The district will use the profile in its advertising and recruiting strategies as it continues to search for a new superintendent once Freeman retires at the end of this school year.
"Most often discussed was the ability for the superintendent to lead the balancing of the curriculum so that the district will give equal attention to the improvements in achievement across all students," Edwards said.
That need relates to one of the few issues respondents said they had with the district — that opportunity and achievement gaps exist within the minority segments of the student body. Edwards pointed out that this wasn't a "universal" issue for profile participants, but it was brought up by several of them.
Edwards said the most-desired qualities in a new superintendent included:
- Excellent financing and budgeting skills.
- Strong public relations skills — a man or woman who can inspire confidence in parents, employees and the community and balance perception with reality when it comes to issues like academic state rankings.
- Political savvy without the desire to be a "political player."
- Experience working in a district in an "urban setting," or suburb adjacent to a major city.
- The ability to attract talented teachers
Edwards said respondents were split on whether the candidate should currently be a practicing superintendent and whether he or she should possess a doctorate degree.
Shaker School Board President Annette Tucker Sutherland said HYA is expected to recommend five or six people to interview by March 4, when an executive session will be held. The district will not make candidate names public until it has narrowed the search down the final three.
The district will soon post the HYA profile report on its website.