Board interviews 2 superintendent candidates
Published 9:40 am Monday, May 11, 2015
The Elizabethton Board of Education interviewed two candidates for the next superintendent of schools Saturday morning.
The two finalists are interim superintendent Corey Gardenhour and Myles Hebrard of Powell. Blair Henley of Bristol was also scheduled to be interviewed, but he removed himself from consideration.
Hebrard is principal of Claxton Elementary School in Anderson County, where he has served since 2008. Before that, he was a pre-engineering teacher for seventh and eighth grade and an eighth-grade algebra and math teacher at Clinton Middle School in Anderson County from 2003-2008.
Hebrard has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Charleston. He received a master’s degree in special education, an education specialist degree in special education and administrative licensure in educational leadership and supervision from the University of Tennessee.
Hebrard worked in business for a while before deciding to make the move to education.
“I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life,” he said. “I wanted to do something that makes a difference.”
If selected as superintendent, Hebrard said he would work to build a good foundation for students to have successes later in life in their college or career choices. He would also make being visible in the schools a priority and work to engage the community in school happenings.
“Engagement is what matters most,” he said. “Participation is nothing if people are not engaged. Part of increasing that engagement is being visible — that means being visible in the schools, in the community and letting people know I am committed to the school system.”
Hebrard said he would lead by example, and not expect staff to do anything he would not do himself. He would set high expectations for students and encourage them along the way until they met them. He would also encourage and support more servant leadership opportunities in the school system, he said.
On the operations side, Hebrard would work with other administrators, department leaders and principals while making the budget and would attend City Council meetings to be involved with the government process. He said he would also invite council members into the school system to see what was happening with the students.
“We would need to keep them engaged in the school system and show that we are trying to better the students education,” he said. “We want to keep the students here, build a strong foundation for their future and hopefully they will stay here and lead the community one day.”
If selected, Hebrard would measure his success on how much community engagement had improved in the time he was there.
“That engagement would go back to my visibility in the community,” he said. “If I am not visible, then you cannot expect people to be engaged. I want people to know me. I want them to know that I am available to them.”
Gardenhour has worked with the ECS since 2006, starting as principal of West Side Elementary. He has also worked as director of alternative service, special education, special education transportation, personnel, pre-k-12 curriculum and instruction, response to intervention, guidance services, technology, testing k-12, early learning services, health and nursing services and data services and accountability.
Gardenhour received his bachelor’s of science in biology and chemistry and master’s in education from Milligan College. He received an education specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University in education administration and supervision and a doctorate in education from East Tennessee State University in education leadership and policy analysis.
Gardenhour decided to pursue the superintendent position because of the connection he feels and relationships he has made in the city since he started working with the school system.
“Over the time I have been here, I have always felt supported, in whatever position I have been in,” he said. “I value those relationships. I love our kids and our parents. I feel it is a good fit for me.”
If selected to be superintendent, Gardenhour would work to build a “team” climate in the school system, would focus on improving the future vision for the schools and would try to ensure each student had a positive experience in the system.
“I want this to be a place where the people enjoy, and look forward to coming to work,” he said. “I want the students to thrive, feel connected and develop experiences they can use for the rest of their lives.”
While serving as interim, Gardenhour said he had made connections with other city leaders and was working to build a more solid relationship with them. He has worked with other school administrators developing the budget and solving other issues. Quick and accurate communication was another focus point for Gardenhour.
If selected as superintendent, Gardenhour said he would work to keep improving as a leader.
“I want to get better,” he said. “If I didn’t, then I am not worth having around. I would listen to feedback from the board, the parents, the faculty and the students. How am I perceived by the students? I am there enough that they know who I am? I would need to ask myself everyday if I am the leader I want to be.”
After conducting the interviews, the board briefly discussed the candidates. All the board members agreed that both Hebrard and Gardenhour would be a good choice for superintendent.
“I have said it before, and I will say it again, I am thrilled with the caliber of applicants who want to be a part of our school system,” board chairwoman Rita Booher said. “We just interviewed two incredible young men, who are passionate about what they do. To them, it is a ministry to care for our children and their families, to provide for their education.”
Vice Chairman Phil Isaacs added the concern for children and their education was apparent in both applicants.
“They both have a sincere love for children, you can really tell that,” he said.
The board will host a called meeting on Wednesday at 8 a.m. to consider recommendations for the next superintendent of city schools. The meeting will be held in the board room at the ECS central office at 804 S. Watauga Ave.