QA with Wayne Vickers: First semester a success

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What expectations or goals did you have for your first semester as superintendent of Demopolis City Schools?

The first semester of any job, whether it is a principal or whether it is superintendent, sets the tone for the remainder of that year. Demopolis has been a very successful school system and what I wanted to do is have a very smooth transition from Dr. (Wesley) Hill&8217;s leadership to my leadership. I have to commend Dr. Hill on working with me. I was able to come in in May and was able to transition with him longer than most new superintendents have the opportunity to. That was very fortunate for me.

I also have to commend this school system on an excellent first semester. We have so many positive things going on &8212; the completion of the Westside Elementary addition, quality teaching and learning going on at every school. All of those things went off without a hitch. The opening of school and the first semester as far as athletics and academics went very well.

We have quality leadership in our school system and in our schools. Each school, the leadership team there does an excellent job. I&8217;ve been very fortunate to work closely with them on projects and activities. They&8217;ve been very willing to work with me also, which is a great benefit.

I will say that I am very pleased with what has happened first semester. As a new superintendent, I feel that I get a chance to talk with other new superintendents at the different conferences and state meetings and I feel blessed to be in Demopolis City Schools.

I also wanted to say that I feel that I have a quality school board. The members of the school board are very supportive about the importance of teaching and learning in our schools. They have been wonderful to work with. I&8217;m very pleased with that relationship.

Do you feel like you have met or exceeded the goals you had in mind?

When I came in, I wanted to make sure there was a smooth transition and build collaboration and communication. That is something that has been the cornerstone of what I have tried to do. I feel it has gone very well. I think people are very comfortable around me and the community knows I&8217;m a part of the school system. I&8217;m not just the superintendent but I&8217;m also a parent in the system. I feel that they know I try to keep a close relationship with what is going on at each school.

The things I had set out to accomplish for the first semester, I feel like I&8217;ve met those. The next phase is closing out the school year this year. We have a Blue Ribbon nomination for our high school; we have so many quality academic and athletic programs going on. If the second semester turns out to be the same as the first, I think we will have an excellent school year.

As superintendent, I always want to set the bar for the next year. Once you have your first year under your belt, my expectations for what we are going to do, the bar raises. There are a few things I&8217;d like to accomplish as a system. One is that in about May or June we will work on our school system&8217;s first strategic plan. That will involve the community and leaders in the area. We feel that if you have a plan, you are planning for success. But if you fail to plan, you are planning for failure. I believe that there are four or five major components in a strategic plan, and if we address those and get the community&8217;s input and the board&8217;s input that we will have something that will guide our system. The goal for our system is to be the best school system in the state of Alabama. We have all the pieces there to be the best school system in the state.

I want the community to know I am very impressed with the quality of instruction at our schools. We want to use this strategic plan to get us to the next level.

It is a five-year plan with both short-term goals and long-term goals. With the short-term goals, there are things that can be accomplished quickly. That&8217;s the great thing about a strategic plan. There are short-term and long-term benchmarks that you set, and it gives us a guidepost each year of whether we have accomplished the goals set forth in that plan. I&8217;m very excited about that.

Were there any surprises or challenges this past semester or do you foresee any challenges this upcoming challenges for the rest of the year?

Being a principal at all three levels before and working at a central office has really helped me to be prepared for the events in a school and a school system. I really have not had any unforeseen surprises. My goal as a superintendent is to try to foresee any things that might occur and try to get them resolved. Really and truly I have not seen anything that has taken me off course.

I think that this city and the people in Demopolis are very supportive of the school system and very proud of their school system. I am too. I think that alleviates a lot of things. I have a vested interest to make this an even better school system. I have been at four or five different school systems and I would rank the Demopolis City Schools at the top.

There are just so many things that are positive and there are some things we need to improve on. There are always four or five things we want to change and in the end it will make us a better school system.