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Winfield’s Thomley interviews with Linden BOE

Randy Thomley, principal of Winfield Elementary School

Why do you want to be Superintendent of Linden City Schools?

I have family here. My mother and father-in-law live here. My wife is from here. I used to go to church here. I’m from Selma. My father is 80 years old…and I’d like to be closer to him. The other thing is, I’m an elementary school principal…I pulled all of Linden’s dates off the state department website and looked at it. I just know that we’ve always been told we want to be in the Top 10. I think there’s a challenge here to promote academics. I feel like I can bring some things to enhance that.

What are most important functions of superintendent?

I’m hands on. You have to be a leader by example. I think you’ve got to be willing to go into the classrooms, to see what’s going on and to interact with the teachers and interact with the students. Academics is a key and important part of the role of the superintendent…as is keeping a close eye on finances.

How would you keep BOE informed?

You need to be in all three schools, you need to talk to your stakeholders…your teachers. You need to know your community. You need to know your parents.

How would you resolve conflict with the BOE?

Nothing wrong with disagreeing. You can always disagree and do it respectfully. You’ve got to do what’s best for the children and if that’s what guides your thoughts, you’ll find some middle ground there.

If the budget was prorated by 10 percent, how would you recommend, budget cuts be made?

You’d have to know about local units. Then you have to look at personnel. You want to protect your people…See how you can save money before you make cuts. I do wear a tie to work but I’ve been swabbing toilets with a tie. You just do what you’ve got to do.

What are important elements for innovative programs?

It all starts at the elementary school. You’ve got to establish your foundation there. You continue what you’ve got with a firm hand.

What curriculum trends have merit?

Technology is key. Our children, we’re getting them ready for jobs that don’t even exist right now.

What changes have you made in your present position?

Our teachers know that they’re going to look at their class rosters, try to plan the schedule very heterogeneously. We try to group them where their reading curve is by their ability and make sure the children have the opportunity to learn.

What attributes do you look for in a good teacher?

You can’t employ someone and give them tenure if they can’t get the job done. In hiring a teacher, you give them an opportunity and tell them what you expect from them. At the end of the first year, you evaluate them. If you’ve coached them and they won’t listen, you let them go. If you’ve coached them and they’ve worked hard and they’ve bought in to your system, you give them that second year.

How would you stimulate professional growth in teachers?

You’ve got to work with people within your community. You provide the teachers with professional development opportunities and you encourage them.

How do you handle complaints from principal and parents about a teacher’s performance?

I’m not a building or office principal. I am rarely in my office. I’m in the classroom. A lot of times I see it firsthand…but you’ve got to support the principal. What does he see that needs to be addressed.

What is your greatest administrative strength?

I’m a people person. I love elementary school children. I think I get along well with people.

What is your greatest weakness?

I’ve never been a superintendent. I did graduate with from the Alabama Superintendent’s Academy but it’s one thing on paper. It’s another when you walk the walk and do the job.

What is your most outstanding contribution?

Being fair and being consistent is the hardest thing that you’ll ever have to do. And then you’ve got to tell folks when they’re doing well.

The current superintendent of education also serves as principal of Linden Elementary School. Would you be willing to serve in that capacity, also?

Yes. Sometimes, school’s the happy place for some children…I never have a bad day. I love the elementary school.

Could you be released room your current contract?

I’ve told my board president and my superintendent (about my intent to interview), so, yes.

Would you be willing to move to Linden?

Yes.