Tecumseh School Board to pick two finalists for superintendent
The Tecumseh School Board will meet in special session Monday, Feb. 4, to pick the two finalists in the search for the new superintendent for Tecumseh Public Schools after interviewing the last two candidates for the position Thursday, Jan. 31.
The Monday meeting will begin with the trustees meeting in open session at 7 p.m. and immediately recessing to executive session. The closed meeting is necessary because parties involved, the six candidates who were interviewed this past Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, exercised their right to a closed session for the board to review their respective applications for the position. After deliberation, the trustees will reconvene in open session and announce the finalists. The selection of the two finalists will be the only item on the agenda for the meeting.
Michigan Association of School Board superintendent search consultant Richard Dunham, who has been coordinating the board’s effort to find a replacement for retiring Supt. Mike McAran, announced the board’s decision for Monday’s special board meeting at the conclusion of the final interview Thursday night.
Dunham said that the two finalists will be interviewed on separate evenings, Wednesday, Feb. 13, and Thursday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. and that the candidates will be in Tecumseh all day on the day of their interview. There will be an opportunity for district residents to “meet and greet” the candidates before the formal interview sessions.
For the final interviews, the board’s questions will be reduced to 14 from the 21 that were asked in each interview for the first round. Once again, the district residents in attendance will be allowed to pose written questions through facilitator Dunham to the candidates after the board queries have been answered.
“Your board has done a phenomenal job,” Dunham told Thursday night’s audience. “The point was for the board not to get involved personally during the first round. That was by design. In the second round it’s going to get personal. They [trustees] have been very transparent through this whole process.”
An account of the first two interviews Tuesday night for Carl Shultz, principal of Fitzgerald High School in Warren, Mich., and Scott Riley, supt./K-12 principal/special education director at Camden-Frontier Schools in Hillsdale County, were reported in Thursday’s issue of the Tecumseh Herald.
The hunt for the next superintendent continued Wednesday night with the second in a series of three evenings of interviews. The interviewees were Sean McNatt, superintendent of Breckenridge Community Schools in Breckenridge, Mich., which is between Alma and Saginaw, and Dr. Kelly Coffin, assistant superintendent for special education at Lenawee Intermediate School District.
All interviewees were asked the same 21 questions by board members and audience members were allowed to submit written questions that were screened and then posed by the board at the end of the interview.
In accordance with interview protocol, McNatt began his presentation with a summary of his credentials. His education history began with an associate degree in liberal arts from Oakland Community College, followed by a bachelor of business administration from Davenport College with minors in social science and business management. He earned his bachelor of arts in general education from Aquinas College, including a secondary certificate with a major in business administration and a minor in history. From there he went on to Central Michigan University to earn a master of arts in educational leadership, including an administrator certificate in elementary and secondary school management with an emphasis in secondary school administration. He is currently working on a degree for specialist in educational leadership at Central Michigan University.
McNatt’s employment history includes administrative positions in several Michigan school districts, including principal at Bronson Junior/Senior High School, located between Sturgis and Coldwater, Mich., and curriculum director for the Arenac Eastern School District in the Saginaw Bay area.
He has also taught and coached at Perry High School in Ohio and was a teacher and head administrator at Lakewood Christian School in Lake Odessa, Mich., where he was also head soccer coach for the boys junior varsity and girls varsity teams.
Before his teaching and school administrative career, he was purchasing supervisor for Machus Management Services for the Palace of Auburn Hills and an assistant warehouse manager for the Palace.
As with the previous applicants, Tecumseh Board President Ed Tritt began the questioning by asking McNatt how he would encourage transparency in the school district administration and what steps he would take to be visible in the district and community.
McNatt said that he was known in his previous positions for communicating at all staff levels and for being present in school activities. “Transparency is more and more important to school employees and to the community,” he said. “It has always been my priority to maintain the focus that what we do is all about students. We’re here to help. Each student has the capability of learning and it is our responsibility to find out how to accomplish that.”
At the end of the list of questions about management style, budget experience, personnel management and many other administrative responsibilities, the board’s final question to all applicants inquires about whether he or she would be willing to live in the district if granted the opportunity to be superintendent of Tecumseh Public Schools.
McNatt said emphatically that he and his family are ready and willing to move into the Tecumseh School District. “It would be my pleasure to move here with my three kids,” he told the trustees. “I would be vested in the community. It helps to have a balance between business and family. I’m not saying I would be living next door to my office, but I would definitely be in the community.”
Dr. Kelly Coffin needed no introduction to the board, as she is well known in the district for her tenure here as a Tecumseh Middle School teacher from 1996 until 2004. Before that, she was a core teacher at the now defunct Adrian Training School. Coffin accepted the position of principal at Onsted Middle School in 2004 where she remained until 2006. She was interim superintendent at Onsted during 2007 while serving as principal and then assumed her current position as assistant superintendent for special education and general services at the Lenawee Intermediate School District. She is an adjunct professor in educational leadership at Eastern Michigan (EMU) and Sienna Heights universities.
Coffin received her bachelor of science degree in education from Central Michigan University with concentrations in elementary education, teaching the emotionally impaired, and mathematics. She received a master’s degree in reading education from Eastern Michigan University and an education specialist degree in leadership (beyond a master’s degree but below a doctorate) from EMU, following her master’s degree. In 2011, she earned her doctorate from EMU in educational leadership.
In response to the first question from the board about the importance of transparency and visibility as a superintendent, Coffin said, “For me, communication is key. I would be as I always have been: open, honest and sincere. I believe that trust is an ongoing process.”
To the final question about residency within the district if she were hired as superintendent, Coffin said, “It is very important. This is where I live and where my kids go to school. It’s where I’m invested. Specifically, I don’t know how else you can earn that trust and credibility without living here.”
In her concluding remarks, Coffin told the board, “I would bring vision and leadership experience with the staff here. This would be my last stop. This is the only position I’m applying for: to serve the community, the board, and the students.”
Thursday night’s interviews began with Dr. Michael Osborne, superintendent of Hudson and Morenci Area School Districts. Before becoming superintendent of the joint school districts, he was high school and middle school principal of Hudson Area Schools from 2002 to 2009. From 1997 to 2002, he was principal and teacher at St. John’s Lutheran School in Adrian, after serving as an adjunct faculty member at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. From 1989 to 1997, he was principal and teacher at Good Shepherd Lutheran School in Toledo.
Osborne attended Concordia College, majoring in liberal arts and received his bachelor of education-therapeutic recreation degree from the University of Toledo. He continued his post-graduate education at the University of Toledo, graduating with a master of education-elementary and early childhood education degree. He earned his doctorate in education-elementary and secondary educational administration degree from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minn.
In response to the board’s question about the importance of residency in the school district if he is chosen as the next superintendent, Osborne said, “I believe it is extremely important to be active in the community. My schedule is to be the first one at work in the morning and to be involved in the community and clubs. A superintendent plays an important role in the community.”
In summary, he told the board, “I think TPS has done a great job over the years. The students do extremely well, but I believe you have the potential to not just lead the county but to lead the state as well.”
Sharon Irvine, executive director of human resources at Ypsilanti Public Schools, was the sixth and final candidate to be interviewed. Before her current position, she was principal at Thornton Creek Elementary School, which is part of Northville Public Schools in the Detroit metropolitan area northeast of Ann Arbor from 2005 to 2011. Prior to that, she was principal at Perry Child Development Center in the Ypsilanti Public Schools. She also served internships in the district. Early in her career, Irvine was director and coordinator at Mission Valley YMCA in San Diego, Calif. She also served a federal judicial internship with Chief Judge Rosen during studies for her law degree.
Irvine received her bachelor of arts degree in child development, with a certificate in Spanish Studies, from Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego, Calif., where she also earned her master of arts in special education. She earned a specialist of arts in education leadership from Eastern Michigan University and was awarded a juris doctor (a J.D. is a doctoral degree in law) from Wayne State University. She is currently working on her doctorate in education leadership at EMU.
When asked by the board if she felt it was important for a superintendent to live in her or his school district, Irvine said, “If not right in the district then right by, but it is critical to be visible.”
In closing, she said, “This is a delightful community. A community is stronger with a strong school system. I see a strong foundation already here. My background in law, administration, and education would be useful to you.”