New interim superintendent nominated by Summit school board
The Summit School District Board of Education unanimously nominated Roy G. Crawford to fill the position of interim superintendent for the 2020-21 school year.
During interviews with the three finalists Monday, June 14, the board asked questions regarding finalists’ experience working with strategic plans and school boards, retaining staff, building partnerships and bringing the community together amid conflicting opinions.
The board also asked questions specific to its recently passed Just and Equitable Education policy, including finalists’ previous equity experience and their focus areas for implementing the policy considering community response.
The sole person who spoke for public comment, Amy Noraka, expressed concern that the board was not asking candidates any questions directly related to education or curriculum.
During his interview, Crawford spoke on his diverse experience in education across 43 years, running schools from Maine to Manitou Springs and Germany to Cambodia.
At Monmouth High School in southern Maine, he worked as a principal and superintendent for 12 years after starting his administrative career in York, Maine. Crawford went on to become head of school at the Bonn International School in Germany, his first experience working at an International Baccalaureate school, which he said was the most intense learning experience of his life. He also worked as head of school at two other international schools: Northbridge International School Cambodia and Verdala International School in Malta.
“I never dreamed that Carrie and I would become the risk takers we became,” Crawford said about him and his wife traveling the world.
Crawford said he was at his condo in Keystone when his wife saw the opening for interim superintendent and that he applied for the job because Summit School District’s mission statement aligned almost exactly with those of the schools he worked with in the past, showing a commitment to preparing students for the community and world.
“It just seemed like the stars were aligned right …” Crawford said in his interview with the board. “(Other jobs) don’t resonate the way this one did.”
While in Cambodia, Crawford said he worked with students of 40 or 50 different nationalities who spoke “maybe as many languages.” He said this was the most professionally satisfying position he has held.
While he has not done any work specifically focused on equity, Crawford said he has a background working with diverse student populations.
“Our mantra was ‘every child, every day,’” Crawford said. “We didn’t talk about equity, but we talked about individual children and what their needs were and were we meeting them and did we understand what those needs were. And we provided time for teachers to do that.”
He said he always worked to make sure the school knew its children and their needs.
“Do we have good, formative information about why they’re being successful, why they’re not? Do we have an understanding of their families … the culture that they come from?” Crawford said. “Do we understand their language challenges … how their religious practices impact what they’re learning and how they interact with their education?”
When asked about community response to the equity policy, Crawford said he needs time to understand and learn the backstory of the policy. He said his focus would be understanding how the policy was developed, understanding what equity work has already been done in the district, and understanding the relationship between the policy language and the equity plans in the strategic plan.
Crawford said he would also need time with administration, particularly principals, and teachers to understand their support of and investment in the school’s vision. In addition, he said it’s important to reduce what will become a 13-page strategic plan to critical terms and concepts so that it is easier for the community to connect to and understand the district’s goals.
But above all, Crawford said he takes the district’s obligation to children most seriously.
“When we think about our vision, let’s think about specific kids that we love, because every child that we serve is somebody’s child, somebody’s grandchild, somebody’s niece or nephew,” Crawford said. “Words on paper are important, but think about those individual children.”
Crawford said when working with a school board, open communication is of the utmost importance and that board members must remember they represent all children, all parents and all community members.
Board member Chris Alleman said Crawford was polished and personable as well as a great storyteller and communicator. Board members agreed they were all fond of Crawford’s dedication to finding “sensible and elegant solutions,” something he repeatedly discussed throughout his interview.
The board also addressed community concerns about the speed of the nomination and hiring process.
“With the situation that our school district is in, I know a lot of the community has been concerned and has been asking us to push this back and wait, but it’s really necessary,” board member Gloria Quintero said. “We really don’t have someone with the expertise of a superintendent to be making all the decisions that we need to make. … I’m just trying to reassure the community that if we’re doing this, it’s really to be able to get our school district to where it needs to be.”
The board will move forward with negotiating a contract with Crawford. If the contract is finalized in time, the board will vote to approve it at its regular meeting Thursday, June 17.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.