Superintendent interviews begin today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 25, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Today, the Natchez-Adams School Board takes its next step toward hiring a new superintendent for the district.

Today, Dr. Jimmy Williams, Tupelo’s assistant superintendent, and Dr. John Gregory Ladner, superintendent of Lumberton schools, will interview before the board and panel of community representatives. Williams could not reached for comment Monday or Tuesday.

Candidates Dr. Anthony Lee Morris, director of personnel for the South Panola School District, and Dr. William Laverne Collins, former Houston superintendent, will interview Thursday, said search consultant Dr. E.E. Caston.

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Natchez-Adams Interim Superintendent Mary Kate Garvin and Dr. Suzanne Hawley, Benoit’s superintendent, will interview Friday.

Dr. Suzanne Hawley

For Hawley, superintendent of the Benoit Public School District, partnering with the community is a key to improving education.

And Hawley said Tuesday she would continue to team with businesses and community groups if she is chosen as superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District.

In Benoit, where she has served as superintendent for five years, the organization Big Brothers & Big Sisters provided financing for a football team and is working to start a baseball team as well. Projects done with community support have ranged from sports teams to things as small as getting local farmers to donate equipment, grass seed and fertilizer for landscaping.

&uot;I’m proud of the fact that we’ve established a good relationship with the community and with businesses,&uot; said Hawley, an Oklahoma native. &uot;We’ve come to the realization that it takes all of us for this district to be successful.&uot;

With that in mind, Hawley said her first priority as Natchez-Adams’ superintendent would be to meet with district and community stakeholders to see what their concerns and goals are for the system.

Hawley also said that during her time in Benoit, the district &uot;made a concentrated push towards integration of technology,&uot; with a computer lab and with laptop computers for each teacher.

The district is also involved in distance learning &045; but it has learned to apply for grants for such projects, &uot;because we don’t have much of a tax base,&uot; Hawley said.

Hawley has also worked as administrative assistant to the superintendent, an elementary teacher, curriculum coordinator and technology coordinator. &uot;Being in a small district, you do a little bit for everything,&uot; she said.

Dr. Anthony Lee Morris

For Morris, being selected as superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District would be like coming home.

That is because he served as principal of Natchez High School from 1994 to 1997 before leaving to become personnel director for the South Panola School District, the position he still holds.

&uot;This (superintendent’s) positions would be the next logical step for me. Plus, I enjoyed my stay when I was in Natchez,&uot; Morris said. I always thought the area was full of resources and that if we all align Š Natchez could be one of the leading districts in the state.&uot;

Toward that goal, one of Morris’ first priorities as superintendent would be to meet or exceed state accountability goals. &uot;With what the state is requiring now, as well as what we’re obligated to do with No Child Left Behind, that would have to be a priority,&uot; he said.

Morris said working in a district with 620 employees &045; and working with other administrators, department directors and the school’s board attorney to make sure policies are followed &045; has prepared him well for the challenge of being superintendent.

&uot;I also have to be familiar with business and finance and work closely with all the supervisors,&uot; Morris said. &uot;In many districts, the position I hold would be titled ‘assistant (superintendent).’ &uot;

One challenge Morris faced in his current position was helping to keep lawsuits over overtime pay for noncertified employees to a minimum in that district at a time when districts throughout the state were faced with legal action.

&uot;I’m proud of keeping that situation to a minimum in our district,&uot; he said.

Morris attended the Montgomery Institute, a leadership institute, in Meridian as well as the Principals Institute at Harvard University.