Backgrounds on 7 Cleveland school superintendent finalists

11:34 AM, Apr 24, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Here is information about the seven remaining candidates for Cleveland schools superintendent, following the withdrawals of two candidates who made the list of finalists.

On Thursday, one of the candidates -- Rhode Island School Transformation Officer Jennifer Smith  -- withdrew her name from consideration, saying she will be staying in her current position in Rhode Island.

Late Saturday,  candidate Robert Stannard also withdrew his name for the job.

There were 126 candidates who originally applied for the position.

That original list was whittled down to nine candidates Tuesday, chosen by PROACT Search, a Chicago-based school headhunting company hired by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

The remaining seven will now be reviewed by a 28-member local search committee which includes clergy, parents, school administrators and teachers.

The committee will narrow the candidate list to five and, eventually, to two or three finalists. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and the school board will choose the new CEO by June 1, who will replace Eugene Sanders, who retired Feb. 1.

The search process will include background checks and committee visits to the finalists' workplaces.

The remaining seven candidates include two current CMSD employees, one Northeastern Ohio school superintendent and four others. They are:

CMSD Chief of Staff Christine Fowler-Mack, 46, was an assistant superintendent at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools from 2003 through October, 2009. There she led planning for a Mandarin Chinese program in a Cleveland Heights-University Heights elementary school and supervised administrators during division of the district's high school into five "learning communities."

Fowler-Mack served as interim superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights district for the first half of 2009 and was an unsuccessful finalist to replace Deborah Delisle, who left the school system to become state superintendent of education. 

CMSD Chief Academic Officer Eric Gordon was appointed by Dr. Eugene Sanders in October, 2007. He was the executive director of secondary learning with the Olentangy Local Schools. Prior to that he had been an academic administrator since January, 1998.

He led the development of the Olentangy Local School 2006-07 District Continuous Improvement Plan, and developed strategy and performance benchmarks that complimented the district's stated goals and long-term goals. Gordon's career in secondary education spans more than a decade, and includes academic and administrative positions.

Gordon successfully opened high-performing schools in Delaware County by establishing an instructional climate that enhances academic, artistic and athletic excellence. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education from Bowling Green State University. He is also pursuing a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Walden University.

Lorain Schools Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson came to Lorain on Aug. 1, 2007 to begin her tenure as the Superintendent of Lorain City Schools. She was formerly Deputy Superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri School District, a district with more than 38,000 students and more than 70 schools.

In addition, she served as Associate Superintendent for School Administration for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, a district with over 125,000 students in over 150 schools.

Prior to serving as associate superintendent, she served as a Regional Superintendent for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She has held a variety of instructional and leadership roles in K-12 education, including elementary school teacher, elementary school assistant principal, elementary school principal, director of staff development, executive director of curriculum services, and associate superintendent.

Atkinson holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Education in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.

She has received various honors and awards and is a November, 2006 graduate fellow of the Broad Urban Superintendents Academy, selected as one of 18 educators in the nation to participate in the academy.

According to her biography on the Lorain schools website, she is married and has three sons.

Grand Rapids, Mich. Superintendent Bernard Taylor Jr, 51, grew up in Pittsburgh and earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees at the University of Pittsburgh. He worked as a teacher and principal in the city before accepting a job as school leadership director in the then-28,000-student Kansas City district.

Less than a year later, in 2001, the district's superintendent was fired and the school board appointed Taylor to take his place. He was the 20th superintendent in the troubled district in 30 years - and, after serving for five years, had the longest tenure during that period.

In his past 4 1/2 years as the leader of the 19,000-student Grand Rapids, Mich., district, Taylor has made changes that affect the lives of teachers and students. His supporters say those bold moves have begun to transform a struggling district into a model of reform. His detractors say that he has sometimes moved too quickly, without enough input from parents and teachers, and that he can be impatient with those who stand in the way.

Taylor was also is the running this year for the head of the Syracuse, New York school district and ended up as one of two final candidates. On March 14, two days before the winner was announced, Taylor withdrew his candidacy.

Des Moines, Iowa Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Michael Munoz oversees 32,000 students with a budget of $400 million. He received his C.A.S. at Iowa State University, his M.A. at Chadron State College and his B.S. at the University of Nebraska. Munoz oversees all programs focused on student achievement. He also leads the implementation and monitoring of the district's newly developed five-year strategic plan.

His previous roles in his time at Des Moines Public Schools were Executive Director of the Northeast Region (one of three regions), the Executive Director of eight middle schools, and Director of K-8 Programs in the Northeast Region.

Before joining the Des Moines district in 2005, Munoz was a teacher, coach, elementary school principal and middle school principal in Nebraska. He also was one of three finalists in March, 2011 to become superintendent of the Eugene, Oregon Public Schools.

Lowell, Massachusetts Public Schools Superintendent Chris Augusta Scott became the superintendent of Lowell public schools in March, 2008. Before that, she was the superintendent of the Norfolk, Massachusetts school system.

Scott had been a finalist in the New Bedford Public Schools superintendent search in early 2008. She holds a Ph.D from the University of South Australia, began her teaching career in her native Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1988, and remained in that 53,000 student district for twelve years.

In 2000, she moved to Massachusetts after being hired by Cambridge to be the principal of a Pre-K to 8 school.  After spending two years in Cambridge and one in Wayland as Director of Curriculum and Accountability, Scott became Superintendent of the 1,100 student Norfolk school district in 2004.

Chief Executive of Early Childhood and Family Learning Foundation in New Orleans Pat Cooper says the goals of the Foundation include establishing community centers in the most economically depressed and crime-ridden neighborhoods of New Orleans. Just prior to the New Orleans appointment, Cooper served as Superintendent of Schools in McComb, MS.

He served in that capacity for 10 years and is in his thirty-eighth year of public education service. While in McComb, the McComb School District implemented a planned 13-year longitudinal study relative to the relationship of coordinated school health programs to school reform.

Prior to becoming superintendent in McComb, Pat served four years as Executive Director for the CDC funded National School Health Education Coalition (NaSHEC) in Washington, DC.

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