Dr. Spurgeon Banyard interviews with BOE

Published 3:49 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dr. Spurgeon Banyard, principal of A.H. Parker High School, Birmingham (Ala.) City Schools.


Born and raised in Jackson, Miss. Graduated from Alcorn State. Ph.D. from Mississippi State. Joined US Army after college for four years then Air National Guard for six years. Been a high school principal for eight years, at Parker for one year.

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On why he wants to live in Demopolis

“Demopolis offers an opportunity for growth and advancement for myself and my family…And I love the small town environment.”

On developing a mission

“You have to look at the vision already in place…then look at the overall demographics, the data and test scores that are in place.”

On drop-out rate

“We know we start losing kids in middle school…once students enter high school, we have to start tracking students. If we have 10 students out of 100 that did not graduate, we need to have a record of where we lost children…if they transferred…if they moved…and document if they are actually a drop out or not.”

On school improvement plan

“Make sure your teachers give all the counselors copies of the student’s profile sheets.”

Banyard said that it would be possible to hold in-school tutorial, which would allow struggling students to receive targeted extra help from teachers in that field.

On management style

“I’m not a micro-manger. I have things that I put in place to make sure that the people are doing their job.”

Banyard said he meets with teachers at 9 a.m. each Monday. “You cannot be a building level principal and sit in your office and run a school. “

Banyard said he has assistant principals evaluate 20 teachers each week.

“You have to inspect what you expect.”

On communication methods

“I do a lot of memos and I do a lot of staff meetings. I do not believe on calling people in just to call a staff meeting if we have nothing to talk about. I have an open-door policy with staff and the student body.”

On special education needs

“You have to make sure you have some training with your special ed. department…we have to make sure they know what inclusion is.”

Banyard says special ed students at Parker are evaluated by special ed teachers, who sit in on regular ed. classes. Those teachers also evaluate the regular ed. students while they’re in the class.

“They have to team teach with the regular ed. classes as well.”

On curriculum changes

“You have to understand curriculum…the way I would evaluate Demopolis curriculum is comparing it to what the State Department of Education requires…We have to ask the teachers to teach at a higher level than what the State Department of Education asks of us.”

On relationship with BOE

“I know the Board of Education are my supervisors…anything that happens in the district, good or bad, they’ll hear it from me.”

Banyard said he would provide board members a weekly packet of information to keep them up-to-date between meetings.

On paying civic rent

“I would visit churches to let the fellowship know what we have going on…will visit every community event and all sporting events. You have to get out there, get to know the business people.”

Banyard said he has a 10 and 9-year-old he would enroll in Demopolis Schools and would relocate to Demopolis.

On budget development

“You need to have an outstanding relationship with your business manager. Your building level principals need to submit their budget plans to you as well.”

Banyard said the administrators, superintendent and business manager would meet to see what programs could be implemented as part of the budgeting process. Upon completion, all principals would be given a copy of the budget.

On grant writing experience

Wrote a grant for the Healthy School Initiative for $10,000 and received the funding

Wrote a grant for 50 laptops and received them

On budget cuts if needed

“You always want to keep teachers…you do not want to disrupt the instruction process if at all possible.”

On recruitment

“I would go to all the universities and college fairs…would set up a table with a sign-in sheet and contracts ready for those who are ready to sign up with us. Right now, people look at the Internet…we have to make sure our district Web site has information and is attractive to people looking for jobs.”

Banyard said all principals would be on-hand at the job fairs so potential teachers could interact with their potential bosses at the career fair.

On accomplishments

“I have a 15/15 rule…The first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes of class, no passes can be issued out. The first 15 minutes of class are the most important because the teacher is trying to start the instruction process. The last 15 minutes, the teacher should be bringing that process to a close.”

Banyard said he’s required that lesson plans are due and evaluated on Fridays and teachers are asked to improve them if the plans are perceived to not be up to par.

On discipline

Birmingham does not allow corporal punishment. On the first offense (not cursing at teacher or fighting) students are counseled. Step two is in-school suspension. Third offense is suspension.

“My number one goal is to keep kids in (ISS) school. You have to make sure your ISS teachers are certified and the students know that it’s not a joke…That way we’re keeping the student on course and on track.”

On seeking contract extension or other opportunities

“If there was any other interest that I may have, before I ever apply I would let the board know. I don’t consider that to be good business if you don’t tell your superiors.”