Dr. Demond Means, the Clarke County School District final candidate for superintendent of schools, speaks to an audience at a community forum on April 3. The forum was held at Whitehead Road Elementary School by the CCSD Board of Education with the purpose of presenting Means to the community for a question and answer session. “I am here tonight, humbly, to ask you to work with me as I transition to become your next superintendent,” Means said. “I want to serve this community because I thoroughly believe that a school system that attends to the most historically marginalized children in our nation, and in this case this school system, those are the best school systems that are around.” Photo by Ana Aldridge.
By ANA ALDRIDGE – Writing Coach
A community forum was held at Whitehead Road Elementary School on April 3 to introduce the Clarke County School District’s final candidate for CCSD Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Demond Means, to the community.
The Clarke County School District Board of Education presented Dr. Demond Means, the final candidate for superintendent of schools, at a community forum on April 3. The event was held in Whitehead Road Elementary School’s cafeteria.
The event began with introductions and welcome from WRES Principal Luther McDaniel and CCSD Board of Education President Charles Worthy and had a brief agenda, culminating in a “Q & A” session with Means.
Means, who is currently serving as the Superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District in Southeast Wisconsin, spoke about his experience in public education and his plans to connect with parents, teachers and students.
“I would humbly say I don’t think you’re gonna find anyone who’s gonna work harder for your children than what I’m going to do for you. I firmly believe that the most marginalized children deserve attention. The children who don’t have advocates in places like the superintendent’s office, or in other prominent places in the community; those are the children who need us the most,” Means said.
Community members asked Means to speak on a variety of subjects from school uniforms to supporting students from traumatic backgrounds. CCSD parent Becky Long was specifically concerned with elementary school behavioral policies.
“I just want to see what the new superintendent is like and perhaps ask him some questions. I’m particularly troubled by how many kids are suspended in elementary school and I don’t feel that suspension is an appropriate punishment for a kindergartner or a first grader and yet, it seems to happen quite a lot,” Long said.
Clarke Central High School English department co-chair Ian Altman, who hoped to get a feel for who Means was and how the community would respond to him, says that the introduction went well.
“I wanted two things. One was to get an impression of the personality of the new superintendent, and also to judge the mood of and the tenor of the room to see how the public would react to him,” Altman said. “My initial impression of the new superintendent was good. The devil will be in the details. I’m not gonna really make any judgements until things start happening, but my impression is good. He did seem to be well received by the public there, so it was a good introduction I think.”
CCHS Principal Marie Yuran was also pleased with the forum, and felt that she could identify with some of his passions and beliefs.
“What I want in a leader first and foremost is somebody that cares about students and cares about students’ success, and I felt like I heard that from Dr. Means last night,” Yuran said. “It was clear from his statements that he believes in ongoing school improvement, which is something that we’ve long established in (CCSD), so always looking for someone to bring in a fresh new look about how we have done things and maybe there’s a way to do something better.”
In his speech, Means shared his vision and goals for the future of CCSD with the community.
“I want to make (CCSD) a destination district where teacher candidates are saying, ‘I wanna teach there. I want to go teach at (CCSD). They’re doing some really innovative things. They have the right mindset. I’m aligned to the work that they are doing,’” Means said. “Over time, we will make (CCSD) that destination district and it will be a fun place.”