Driver: Listening, community involvement key

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, May 8, 2013



Straughn High School Principal Shannon Driver said listening and community involvement would be key if the Covington County Board of Education were to select him as the county’s next superintendent.

The board presented Driver with 16 questions pertaining to superintendent and board relationships, curriculum and instructional development, student affairs, business and finance and community relations.

Highlights of Driver’s interview include:

• If hired, he plans to evaluate instructional programs through observations. Driver said he understands there is a fine line between an oppressive, over-bearing superintendent and one who is genuinely concerned. He said that superintendents have to be good listeners, and data is a component of evaluation.

• Drive said that extracurricular activities play a very important role in education. “I’ve been in education long enough to see both sides of the issue,” he said. “Athletics is very important and I have a good understanding of how important it is to the community.”

Driver said that extracurricular activities add richness to the school culture. Picture 2

“We only get these kids for a few years,” he said. “It’s important to provide them with all kinds of experiences, but extracurricular can never become the end-all and be-all. We are there to teach the kids.”

• When it comes to student discipline, Driver said it’s valuable to the learning process, and that different offenses require different measures of discipline, whether it be a paddling, in-school suspension or another form of discipline.

“You have to be firm, but fair,” he said. “The superintendent has to back up the principal in tough situations, if parents put the principal in a tough position.”

• When asked how he would keep the community fully informed about their schools, he said that a lot of that falls on the principal’s role, but that the superintendent has to make an extra effort to keep the community informed. He also said that it’s important for the superintendent to attend school functions, and be willing to talk to and listen to members of the community.

“Public relations is a very big role,” he said. “The superintendent is the connector, and it’s very important to be available. I always want to be known as a listener.”

• Driver said, if selected superintendent, he plans to continue his relationship with local media.

“I know sometimes things are not pleasant,” he said. “But there are a lot of good things going on. I want to have an open-door policy with the media, and have information ready at their request. I want them to know what’s going on. They are welcome in our schools and at the central office.”

• Driver said community input is vital to the overall good of the system.

“It’s important for what we do,” he said. “There are a lot of people who want the best for our schools. I am confident in our people and am willing to listen to other people’s ideas. I don’t think I have all the answers. We have nine individual schools and they are all key parts of tight-knit communities. We want to make sure that our schools are reflective of that community’s values.”

Interviews will continue today with Dr. Mike Hall, principal at Banks School in Pike County, at 4:30 p.m., and Craig Nichols, principal at Pleasant Home, at 6:15 p.m.