Ross: Big on mentoring

Published 12:41 am Friday, May 10, 2013

Dr. Craig Ross said he’s “thirsty” be the next Covington County Schools superintendent and believes that mentoring plays a huge role in a system’s success.

“When I was a science teacher with 178 students, I had a mentor who told me he thought I should come to the ‘dark side’ and be an administrator,” said the Robertsdale High School principal and last candidate to interview Thursday for the CCS superintendent’s job. “I refused. I said I never wanted to leave the classroom. He told me that the influence I had over those 178 students was nothing over his influence of over 900. And I got it.

“Throughout my career, what I’ve learned as an elementary teacher, a middle school teacher, a high school teacher and later a principal, is that I have a thirst to influence more and spread what I believe is a positive leadership style where not only the children flourish, but so do my colleagues.”

Ross described himself as one who makes “child-based, data-driven” decisions who, if hired, plans to generate excitement in the classroom – both for teachers and students.

“I can look at a teacher and say, “I’ve been there. I understand,’” he said. “(The system’s) test scores are good, but there’s always room for improvement. One thing I’ve found, as we build collaboration, (we see) the level of teamwork grow. (When) I gave teachers a voice on what happens in the building on a daily basis. I not only got great ideas. I saw them buying into the school more. That’s the responsibility of the superintendent. You’ve got the entire district and you have to look at the job satisfaction rate, attrition, recruiting and all of that depends on the climate we create here.”

Ross said the community plays a huge role in a school system. He said, if hired, he’d like to implement a town Ross meeting program so parents would have an opportunity to address issues in the schools.

“It’s easy to let ego get in the way sometimes, on doing what you think is best because you think the world should see things like you do,” he said. “But that’s not the case. You have to take time to listen to the residents. I would definitely be a traveling superintendent, because you have to spend time in those communities. You take time to appreciate their views, listen to those views and apply them when you can.

“I have a passion for education,” he said. “I’ve got to make sure I’m doing things right, that we’re doing them as a team, so we can move forward and make good decisions for the kids.”

Ross also said:

• extra-curricular activities are “essential and crucial. We have to educate the child as a whole. Where the classroom does a fantastic job of stimulating the mind, if we’re not concerned about the rest of the child, we’re doing half a job.”

• discipline “must make sense. You have to have guidelines but know there’s not a fix-all approach. We need to do a better job of looking at child development and psychology so we can better understand why they do those things.”

The board will announce the new superintendent on Tues., May 14, in a special called meeting after the end of the valedictorian and salutatorian dinner.