Smith interviews with Linden BOE

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dr. Tyrone Smith, director of The Opportunity Academy at Riggins School in the Birmingham City Schools system

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

My interest in education stems from my upbringing. Understanding the dichotomy of small towns…Linden strikes me because I know we have a great deal to offer.

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What are the most important functions of superintendent?

To first understand that he answers to the board and he should make sure the board members are treated the same. I feel that the board and himself should sit down and develop goals together. The superintendent should make sure that the school district is in line with the state course of study.

How would you keep BOE informed?

Weekly meetings, actually coming to the board and talking to them, newsletters, called meetings, e-mails…

How would you resolve conflict with the BOE?

In research it is indicated that the superintendent is supposed to be the education expert. If the superintendent and the board of education are together in developing goals for the district, we can all come together and say, this is what we need, and this is the driving force.’

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

I believe in research…research spending. There are a number of school systems the same size as Linden. We would call them and see what they did. We would reduce spending, we would institute a hiring freeze.

What are important elements for innovative programs?

Great leadership and continuous staff development.

What curriculum trends have merit?

The Race To The Top has merit. (Race To The Top is a $4.35 billion incentive program designed by the United States Department of Education to spur reforms in state and local district K-12 education. It is funded by the ED Recovery Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and was announced by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on July 24, 2009.)

What changes have you made in your present position?

We were just basically utilizing our accelerated readers to improve our reading. Now supplement that with Read 180

What attributes do you look for in a good teacher?

When I hear ‘I love kids.’ I wonder if they know what they’re saying. A kid is baby goat. When I hear them say ‘I love children.’ I find out more. I want to know if teachers are willing to make their teaching style meet children’s learning styles.

How would you stimulate professional growth in teachers?

Making sure they have everything that they need. The key thing is that you do not want teachers just to work. You want them to feel responsible.

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

The key thing is communication. Before we make a decision, we have to put all the decisions on the table. Listening to all parties and take it to the board so that we all make the right decisions.

What is your greatest administrative strength?

Empowering people to do what they don’t even know they love. Empowering people to understand that this is a responsibility.

What is your greatest weakness?

Keeping my door open. My door stays open 24/7 and I feel like I can tackle everything…trying to be too involved.

What is your most outstanding contribution?

Some years ago, when a child was sent to the alternative school, I wanted no part of it. I had no clue that God would put me over the alternative school. Last year, we serviced 1,582 children. The accomplishment was only 192 returned there. Over 50 percent of our children did extremely well (on state testing and the graduation exam).

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

Not only that, I would be willing to stand out in front of the school every morning. I do that now in the rain, the sleet and the snow. The first person they see every morning is me.

Could you be released room your current contract?


Would you be willing to move to Linden?