Following discussion during its Monday night study session, the Tullahoma City Schools Board of Education is set to announce its selection for the new director of schools.
The new man in charge of the education of Tullahoma students is expected to be John C. Carver, who has served in a consulting capacity with Maury County Schools since 2016.
According to Board Chairman Pat Welsh, each of the seven school board members interviewed three potential finalists for the position on an individual basis over the last couple of weeks.
Dan Lawson, the current director of schools, will leave at the end of the calendar year to accept a teaching position at Lee University.
After interviewing all three candidates, each board member then sent a rankings sheet to Wayne Qualls, an educational consultant who has been spearheading the superintendent search for the last several months.
Qualls then compiled the scores from each board member and determined which candidate emerged as the top choice for the board as a whole, Welsh said.
The clear choice, according to Qualls, was Carver, who has extensive experience in the world of education.
An Iowa native, Carver has held numerous positions in education throughout his career – from a social studies teacher and athletic coach to a superintendent of two different school systems.
Carver received his Bachelor of Science degree from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1980. His resume lists his majors as history, political science and physical education.
He then received a Master of Science in Education and school administration from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1987, followed by a superintendent’s certification from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, in 2002.
Prior working for Maury County Schools, Carver served as the superintendent of schools for the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in Cresco, Iowa, from 2012 to 2016 and for Van Meter Community Schools from 2009 to 2012.
His superintendent experience highlights his familiarity working with 21st century education and 1-to-1 education similar to that which TCS utilizes.
Specifically, Carver worked with the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District board in order to “allocate financial resources” in order to provide “digital devices” to all students from kindergarten to 12th grade, including iPads to K through five students and MacBooks to students in grades seven through 12.
During his tenure with Howard-Winneshiek, Carver collaborated with the Iowa Department of Education, governor’s office and the Iowa Legislature in order to implement 21st century education, which highlighted “student entrepreneurship” and the usage of broadband in order to allow teachers and school districts across Iowa to develop their own curriculum materials, the same as has been done in Tullahoma.
Carver has numerous awards and recognitions to his name, including recognition from the U.S. Department of Education under President Barack Obama in 2014, the Broadband Hero Award from Connect Iowa in 2014 and recognition as one of the top 50 educators in the nation by the Center for Digital Education in 2011.
As part of Carver’s application for the position, he answered a series of essay questions about what he believes his greatest challenge will be in succeeding Lawson, how he would implement a “strategic plan” for the district and how he planned to integrate himself in the community should he receive the position.
A copy of Carver’s answers was provided to The News from Qualls. Carver submitted his answers on July 11, according to the document.
When asked what his greatest challenge in succeeding Lawson would be, Carver said he “chooses not to see challenges but opportunities,” and “the opportunity before us as a community and as a school district is to build on past accomplishments and create a system of education that empowers learners and enhances creativity, collaboration and imagination.”
“As directors of schools, building trust and consensus with the board of education and community stakeholders will be my top priority,” he added.
In response to a question about his proposed strategic plan for the district, Carver supplied five bullet points he felt needed to be addressed in Tullahoma, including whether or not classroom instruction aligned with state standards, the nature of Tullahoma classrooms, whether teacher evaluations were aligned with student achievement and more.
Further, Carver wondered if teachers had ample time to “analyze student data, reflect on instructional practices and strategically plan,” and proficient professional development, indicating he would be taking a thorough look at the practices of Tullahoma teachers in order to determine their efficacy.
Carver also specifically mentioned the district’s higher-than-state average ACT scores and graduation rate as evidence that the district has “positive momentum.”
Finally, Carver indicated he and his wife were “excited at the possibility of making Tullahoma our home” and fully integrating themselves in the community should he receive the position.
When asked how important it was for the superintendent to seek out community involvement, Carver said building the trust between the school district and the community was “foundational.”
“This means fully investing time and talents in the people and the community,” he said. Specifically, Carver mentioned that during his time in Columbia, he and his wife, Pam, had become Rotarians and supported a number of community initiatives through the Rotary Club as well as through their current church in Columbia.
In the following weeks, Carver will be coming to town in order to meet with the entire TCS team, including individual building visits, a meeting with the school administrative team and more.
According to an email to The News from Lawson, the first meeting for TCS employees will take place at 9 a.m. this Friday, Aug. 17, during which the school board and numerous TCS principals will have an opportunity to meet Carver and ask any questions they have of him.
The next meeting for Carver will take place next Wednesday, Aug 22, during which the employees of the elementary schools will have an opportunity to meet him. The first of these elementary school meetings will take place at 1:20 p.m. at East Lincoln Elementary School, followed by a 2:30 p.m. meeting at Jack T. Farrar Elementary School.
The middle and high schools will have their meetings the Wednesday following, Aug. 29, according to the email. Carver will be at East Middle School at 1:15 p.m., followed by a 2:15 p.m. meeting at West Middle School and a 3:15 p.m. meeting at Tullahoma High School.
Further, the school board will have a special-called meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5, in order to vote on Carver’s employment contract.
There will also be a public meeting for Carver, though Welsh said Monday he had not yet nailed down a date for that event.
Erin McCullough may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.