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Third MNPS Director Candidate Answers Questions At Public Forum

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Posted at 10:17 PM, Jul 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-04 16:27:23-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The last of three finalists to be the next director of Metro Nashville Public Schools answered questions from community members at a public forum.

Dr. Barry Shepherd recently retired after working for seven years as superintendent in Cabarrus County Schools in North Carolina. He has worked in education for 30 years, and began his career as a teacher and worked his way up to administrative jobs. He said even though he worked in a school district that was about half the size of Metro, he has the experience to make a difference in Metro Schools.

“I’m not overwhelmed by the number of schools,” said Dr. Barry Shepherd. “I’m excited about the opportunity to have a positive effect on a lot of people.”

Like the other two finalists, Dr. Angela Huff and Dr. Mike Looney, Dr. Shepherd answered questions from a panel of community leaders and parents for about an hour and a half. Many of the questions focused on diversity in the district. Dr. Shepherd discussed how a dual language immersion program helped English Language Learner students in his old district.

“I would say that’s an important part of leading the school district,” said Dr. Shepherd. “I would make sure everyone understands my expectations for treating people and celebrating their differences.”

Dr. Shepherd also stressed the importance of creating a sense of urgency in the district, and establishing clear goals and monitoring progress at schools.

He described himself as a “collaborative” leader who stresses the importance of teamwork.

“Sometimes we have issues with communication because we don’t get feedback,” said Dr. Shepherd. “We don’t listen. I try and spend more time listening than talking.”

Metro School Board members have planned to meet Thursday morning to discuss the feedback from the community forums, and select their top candidate. They hope to vote on the selection at the board meeting scheduled for July 23.

Dr. Jesse Register retired as Director of Schools in June.