By Heather Mullinix
The Cumberland County Board of Education will interview six finalists for the position of director of schools April 6 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Central Office, 368 Fourth St.
Consultant Wayne Qualls said, "I came to three conclusions through this process. One, each of you said to me you want the six best folks, period. Now, I must say that best is relative to how I look at it versus how you look at it. You charged me to find the six best folks.
"Two, You wanted me to find the six best folks without regard to address.
"And three, the director needs to be someone who is skilled in public relations and has high communication skills and preferably someone who had upper leve administrator experience."
Qualls then presented the six finalists. They are, in alphabetical order:
•Dennis Albright of Sutton, WV. Albright has four years' experience as a superintendent and has just signed a new three year contract with the Baxter Co., WV, school system. He has served as a school board member in the past and his educational experience includes being a high school and elementary principal, a coach and athletic director.
He holds a master's degree in curriculum and instruction and a master's degree in administration and supervision. Qualls noted Albright specializes in school systems with financial difficulties.
•Donald Andrews of Ashboro, NC, has 17 years' experience as a superintendent, currently serving Randolph County, NC, schools, and was honored as the Superintendent of the Year in 2005 and 2012 by the North Carolina Athletic Association. He has also served as a high school principal and assistant superintendent.
He has an educational specialist degree in educational administration and a master's degree in educational administration. His accomplishments include completing a $118 million building program and a reorganization that saved $500,000 in savings over a six-year period. He also implemented professional learning communities, lead teacher programs, evaluation instruments for principals and teachers and a response to intervention program.
•Steven Dickerson, of North Vernon, IN, is currently a professor at Oakland City University, teaching master's and doctoral level courses in education. He is also a consultant and serves as a mentor to principal interns. His experience includes eight years as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Jennings County Schools in Indiana and 15 years as a high school principal and led reform for Blue Ribbon schools.
Dickerson's experience extends beyond education into the business world, as well, working as a physical scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency and working as superintendent of wastewater treatment facilities, supervising 16 to 32 acres of stabilization lagoons.
He has a doctorate of education from Ball State University.
•James Francis of Spring Hill, TN, is currently the Middle Tennessee regional coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Education. His experience includes 10 years as superintendent of the Hazard Co., KY, Independent Schools where the high school ranked fifth in the state. He was a high school coach, retiring with a 175-26 record, and a federal program director for 50 Tennessee school systems. He also authored the paper for superintendents, "Working with the Local Funding Body."
He holds a doctorate of education from Trevacca University.
•Tammy Knipp, of Cookeville, is a district administrator supervising extended learning programs for the Putnam County SChool System. She was previously a district supervisor in charge of secondary education for the Jackson-Madison County, TN, school system. She planned and implemented a new teacher foundation program.
She has also served as an elementary supervisor on the district level and as an elementary principal. She is also a highly qualified science teacher. She holds a doctorate in education from Union University.
•David Roper, of Murfreesboro, is currently a master clinician at Middle Tennessee State University. He has seven years experience as a superintendent of schools in Tennessee and Alabama and has served as the executive assistant to the superintendent for the Birmingham City Schools and executive director of innovative services for the Guilford County, NC, schools. His speciality is training teachers and principals. He is also a school psychologist.
Charles Tollett, 1st District representative, moved to approve the slate of candidates, supported by Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative. The motion was unanimously approved.
Interviews will begin at 9 a.m. April 6 at the Central Office. Board members will meet with each candidate for one hour. A work session will follow, if needed.
The board plans to choose two finalists at its April 25 regular monthly meeting and have those finalists return April 27 to meet individually with each board member. A special-called meeting will be set for May 2 at 6 p.m. to vote on hiring a new director.