Candidate interviews conclude

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 1, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The final two candidates for the Natchez-Adams Schools superintendent post spoke Friday with board members and with a panel of community residents.

For the past three days, as part of the interview process, a cross-section of community residents has questioned the candidates about their experience and their goals. The next step for the board, said chairman Dr. Norris Edney, is immediately to begin the evaluation process. No timetable has been set for choosing a superintendent, but Edney said he wants the selection to move as quickly as possible.

On Friday, Dr. Suzanne Hawley, superintendent of the Benoit School District, told community members about her experience with the small district, which under her tenure has brought back a high school. Before that, the dropout rate for students in the community had been a concern.

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&uot;It’s been a wonderful thing for those kids,&uot; she said, explaining that the high school was reopened after a decision-making process that involved the community.

Hawley said she wants to hold everyone accountable for school success, including parents. She said she is most pleased with the involvement of the community in the school district since she has been superintendent.

To reach at-risk students, Hawley said Benoit has developed mentoring and tutoring programs, involving older students and community groups.

Mary Kate Garvin, the interim superintendent who has led the Natchez-Adams School District since Dr. Carl Davis left last summer, was the last candidate to speak.

Garvin talked about her three and a half years of experience with the district, during which she said she has tried to be as accessible and visible as possible to students and teachers. &uot;I visit every school on a weekly basis,&uot; she said. &uot;I go into the classrooms and get on the floor with (students) and work puzzles and read with them.&uot;

Garvin said she would like the school district to &uot;focus on process rather than programs.&uot;

&uot;We need to make sure our curriculum is 100 percent aligned with state frameworks and benchmarks,&uot; she said.

Garvin said she understands the budget constraints that will come when Adams County loses revenue from plant closings. &uot;We have to start thinking outside the box,&uot; she said. &uot;We need to make better use of our resources.&uot;

To improve the perception of the schools in the community, Garvin wants to involve more community members in the district.

&uot;Total community involvement is the only way you’re going to do it,&uot; she said.