July 24, 2008

Candidates Leave Public Impressed

By Morgan Josey Glover, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

Jul. 24--When Debora Mauser first read the names of the superintendent finalists, she thought : "Is this the best we could get? Someone who hasn't led and someone who's only led small?"

Mauser, a Northern High School parent, said she left Wednesday's public meeting impressed by Maurice Green and Shirley Prince.

Still, Mauser prefers Prince, a former high school teacher, to lead Guilford County Schools.

"Because she is an educator, I'd think she would be a stronger visionary," Mauser said.

Green and Prince spent much of their day with Guilford County residents, dispelling the public's biggest fear -- that they could not handle the demands of a diverse, 72,000-student school system.

Green serves as deputy superintendent and chief operating officer with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Prince has led Scotland County Schools since 1999.

No clear winner emerged late Wednesday, either in public opinions or through official vote. The Board of Education discussed the finalists in closed session. Members could announce their decision by Friday.

Frank Kendall, a public schools advocate in Greensboro, said he agreed with Chairman Alan Duncan that the board had two qualified candidates.

"I think Prince's experiences better qualify her, but I think (Green) has some great people skills that are much needed," Kendall said. "I don't envy the board."

True, Green has no classroom experience, and Prince oversees a district a tenth the size of Guilford.

But they both said they have worked elbow-to-elbow with administrators in various areas, including employee working conditions, construction and restructuring of low-performing schools.

Both said they support teacher incentive pay, arts and music courses, community involvement and strong student discipline policies.

Green indicated that his academic goals would be ambitious and not incremental in nature.

"I won't be looking for average," Green said to employees at Southern High School. "If that's what you want, then I ain't the one you want."

Under Prince's leadership, Scotland County students who qualify for Medicaid will receive dental care at school next year. The district also has improved student achievement and minimized school incidents, even though Scotland has one of the highest juvenile crime rates in the state, she said.

Prince cited as an advantage her hands-on work in rural Scotland and administrative experience in the larger New Hanover and Gaston school systems .

"I think I bring the best of both worlds," Prince said.

Prince advocated for strong principals and quality prekindergarten classes to address the underachievement of black male students. She also argued for flexible class scheduling because of a recent state requirement that high school students pass five exams to graduate.

"(Otherwise) we're going to have students dropping out in droves," she said.

Green, an attorney who formerly represented the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, said he applied for the Guilford position because he saw an opportunity to oversee a district with similar challenges.

He has two school-age children and has served as a lunch buddy and tutor and on boards of directors with various youth organizations.

"In my current job, I am enjoying it immensely," Green said. "This is not something where I'm out looking to be superintendent and am filling out applications everywhere across the country."

Taylor Swink, a program coordinator at Gateway Education Center, said she was impressed by Green's responses to questions from employees, including when he said, "I don't know."

"He sounds like he's a good listener," Swink said. "If he doesn't have a good answer, he will work with employees to figure it out."

Contact Morgan Josey Glover at 373-7078 or [email protected]


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