OUR OPINION: VWSD right in seeking community input

Published 4:00 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

By now, it’s no secret that Vicksburg Warren School District is on the hunt for its next superintendent following the retirement of Chad Shealy from the position, effective April 28.

It’s also no secret that it’ll be difficult to fill Shealy’s shoes after 10 years as superintendent and such exponential growth and improvement under his leadership. But the school district Board of Trustees took an innovative approach recently by soliciting opinions from key interest groups as it determines the best path forward for its next superintendent hire.

Through the use of an open online forum and a participant comment ranking system, the district has succeeded in two equally important things: making sure students, staff and community members (parents, business owners, etc.) are heard and creating an easy-to-understand guidebook for qualities the next superintendent should have.

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People want someone with integrity, someone who leads fairly and listens to their concerns. They want someone who serves schools consistently, and who will further unify the school district. They want someone who will support their children’s needs, help nurture their curiosity and support a safe learning environment.

That’s not to say the VWSD didn’t have these qualities in Shealy — based on the progress the district made during his tenure, it’s safe to say he met and exceeded expectations in many areas.

The key here is, those leading the search for the next superintendent are demonstrating the community’s importance early on, creating a sense of investment in the VWSD beyond tax dollars and a sense of support. What will differentiate a good school district from a great school district is whether or not the surrounding community sees its worth and wants to contribute to its success.

That doesn’t mean the next superintendent will be a wildly likable yes-man (or yes-woman). Quite the opposite; in fact, many would say some of the best leaders are not likable at all.

But it’s not a matter of being liked, or even loved. It’s a matter of keeping promises made and doing what is best for those one serves.

As the search for a new VWSD superintendent continues, let’s remain hopeful that the right candidate will bring our students — our future — to greater heights.