LAFAYETTE — Another round of superintendent candidates laid out plans for the future of the Lafayette Parish School System.
Lafayette schools Deputy Superintendent of Instructional Services Katherine Landry and Craig Fiegel, who recently ended a three-year term as superintendent of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools in Michigan, interviewed for the job Tuesday.
Interviews continue at 8 a.m. Thursday with Don Aguillard; 10 a.m. with Sheila Guidry; and 12:30 p.m. with Luis Gonzalez.
Fiegel has 12 years of experience as a superintendent and a total of 23 years experience as a district-level administrator.
The district’s development of a dynamic vision plan is “paramount” to creating a “world-class” district, Fiegel said.
Fiegel said he’d seek the board’s input on priorities for his first 90 to 120 days.
Landry wouldn’t need much transition time if selected. For the past 42 years, Landry has worked for the school system and has 30 years of school- and district-level administrative experience.
“I know the pulse of this school system and I know the pulse of this community,” she said.
Landry said she’d like the district to enlist the community’s input in creating a vision for the district with measurable goals. The system’s progress in reaching those goals would be reported in a state of the school system report delivered to the board and public.
Both candidates shared their ideas for improving the student achievement in the district.
Fiegel said he believes the task starts with creating a culture of high expectations and building a rapport with students.
“They need to understand that we care about them and we have high expectations of them to achieve,” Fiegel said.
As superintendent in two prior districts, Fiegel said, staff trainings on understanding poverty helped teachers reach students. In one district, a program called “Courageous Conversations” specifically targeted African-American male students to help address the achievement gap with that population.
“(The program) talks about understanding some of where the African-American male is coming from before you can address their needs,” he said.
The training also revealed the district’s staffing was not reflective of its student body and efforts were made to hire a more-diverse staff, he said.
Fiegel said community input was gathered in creating a district diversity plan and he met with high school students to ask, “How do you perceive how teachers treat you and their expectations?”
As a way to improve graduation rates, Landry proposed offering failing students an opportunity to recoup their credit in the same academic year rather than wait until they fail a course and are given the option of credit recovery.
A “proven strategy” to improve graduation rates and overall achievement is an expansion of the district’s preschool program, she said.
The district’s public preschool program has seen results with its Pre-K students outperforming their peers, she said.
But the district’s outreach needs to start even earlier, she said.
She proposed a “preliteracy” program for toddlers in partnership with community agencies at local or school libraries where parents can learn how to help their children develop early reading skills.
“Literacy does not start in Pre-K,” she said. “It doesn’t start in elementary. The latest research indicates that literacy starts at birth.”
Board member Tehmi Chassion said he “loved” Landry’s ideas, but questioned why they weren’t being implemented now.
“My role as deputy superintendent is to support the mission that has been established by the district … and to move that vision forward,” Landry said. “These are ideas I would like to try as superintendent. If I was superintendent, I would expect my deputy superintendent to support those goals.”
EDUCATION: Ph.D. in educational leadership, Kansas State University; M.S. in education and school administration and B.S. in elementary education, University of Kansas.
e_SBlt From 2008 until earlier this year, superintendent of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, in Plymouth, Mich., with 26 schools and more than 19,000 students.
e_SBlt From 1999 to 2008, superintendent of Evergreen Park Elementary District, Evergreen Park, Ill., with 2,000 students in five schools.
e_SBlt Began his teaching career in 1977 as a junior high math instructor and coach in Eudora, Kan. Since 1980, he’s held a school-level or district-level administrative position.
NOTABLE: While superintendent of Evergreen Park Elementary District, one of his schools was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
EDUCATION: Educational specialist degree and M.A., both in educational administration and supervision, B.A. in social studies education, all from University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then-USL).
• Since December 2007, deputy superintendent of instructional services, Lafayette Parish school system.
• From 2007 to 2003, was Lafayette area director supervising 16 schools. In November 2007 was promoted to director of elementary schools.
• Began teaching career in Lafayette as a teacher and in 1981 held first school-level administrator job. From 1984 to 2003, was principal of Woodvale Elementary.
NOTABLE: National Distinguished Principal’s Award during tenure as Woodvale Elementary principal when the school was recognized as Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education