I-SS superintendent says it was 'about the kids'
Superintendent Terry Holliday has one foot out the door of Iredell-Statesville Schools and the other in Kentucky, where he will be the newest commissioner of education.
During Holliday's seven-year tenure as the top I-SS administrator, the school system has flourished in many areas, from new and improved facilities to increased student achievement.
Holliday gives the credit for the district's progress to those in the trenches each and every day, classroom teachers and school administrators.
Leaving I-SS will be a bittersweet experience, he said.
There's "a certain sadness about it," he explained. "There are so many exciting things left to do here."Following a farewell reception Monday, he will leave Iredell County today and begin his new position in Kentucky on Wednesday...
...I-SS accomplishments under Holliday's administration include:
- Top 10 school district: Using an original formula, I-SS compares favorably to other districts in the state;
- Choice options: International Baccalaureate program, Visual and Performing Arts Center, Learn and Earn online, East Iredell Elementary, CCTL, NC Virtual Public School, and Cloverleaf Elementary were all added;
- Top honor: Holliday was named the the 2009 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year;
- Facilities: Passage of a voter referendum and construction of new schools; and
- National award: I-SS was named recipient of Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
"The recognition is nice, but it was never about the recognition," Holliday said. "It was always about the kids."
Holliday wasn't universally loved in I-SS. His administration was dogged by criticism about Baldrige and funding for exceptional and gifted student programs.
"If you weren't being met with opposition, you weren't doing anything worthwhile," Holliday said. "Opposition made us stronger because we had to be sure we were meeting their concern."Two candidates for the I-SS school board in 2008 attempted to turn the campaign into a referendum on Holliday and Baldrige.
Both lost handily.
No one has been more critical of I-SS than Paul Klaene, who has become a fixture at school board meetings and a frequent visitor of the central office, where he has filed numerous public records requests.
Klaene's concerns began with central office salaries and have expanded to include a dislike for spending methods, Holliday's wife working in an administrative role and Baldrige.
Klaene opposes Baldrige because it has "created problems for teachers and takes away from time in the classroom that can be spent on other initiatives."
"The Baldrige thing he's pushed has created many more problems than any solutions," Klaene said.While he acknowledges Holliday did do "some good things," he is looking forward to the future of the school system after Holliday's departure.
"It will be beneficial for the students, teacher and school system as a whole," he said.
Continuing path of success
When Brady Johnson takes over as interim superintendent on Wednesday, he vows to continue down the path of success.
While attending a superintendent's meeting in Raleigh last week, Johnson was reassured I-SS is on the right track.
"I found Dr. Holliday truly is a visionary leader and put our school system ahead of other school systems in the state by two years," Johnson said.
Many initiatives implemented in I-SS as a result of Holliday's leadership are now being adopted by other districts, he said.
Initiatives such as the concept of assessment, strategic planning, and professional learning communities have proven beneficial under Holliday's leadership.
Johnson said Holliday set the vision but it was the hard work of principals, assistant principals, teachers and others who pushed the district over the top.
"Our school system is better and stronger," he said. "We were an above average school system seven years ago but now we're in the top 10 in the state."
School board member Keith Williams, who has been on the board since pre-Holliday days, said under his leadership the district has made many improvements, including the quality of facilities.
"Since he's been superintendent, we've gone all these years without audit findings, watched test scores improve and the achievement gap close," he said.
Williams said Holliday's new job is a great opportunity and if he had to leave "now is probably a good time because the school system is in pretty good shape."
Thursday, August 06, 2009
This from the Statesville Record & Landmark: