‘Happy path’ Thursday leads to ‘preferred’ Metro Schools director

Dr. Barry Shepherd

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The final of three candidates is in the midst of another all-day audition for Metro Schools director, but it’s not certain if one of them will be picked Thursday for the vacant position that leads a district of 86,000 students.

Dr. Barry Shepherd, who recently retired as a superintendent of a Charlotte, North Carolina, school system, faced unscripted questions from the nine Metro School Board members who are scheduled to make a decision by July 23.

Metro School Board chair Sharon Gentry told News 2 that a “happy path” would be to choose one “preferred” candidate Thursday after a three hour discussion from 9 a.m. to noon.

The board would do “on site” interviews in the candidate’s hometown before the job might officially be offered.

Gentry acknowledged that hitting the “pause button” to wait until a new mayor and Metro Council are elected later this summer is also an option, as is requesting the school board’s search firm to come up with another set of candidates.

Dr. Barry Shepherd
Dr. Barry Shepherd

Like the other candidates on Monday and Tuesday, Shepherd answered a variety of questions that ranged from Pre-K to parental involvement and a host of topics in between.

For getting parental involvement, a key indicator of student success, Shepherd said, “We have to make inviting” to get the necessary engagement.

He spoke of things like moving schedules to accommodate parents and even offering food as ways to bring a mother or father into a school to talk about their students.

Shepherd, who recently moved to Nashville as an executive with the Music City Drum and Bugle Corp, spoke of making an eight-year commitment in Nashville that would “make every child perform at a world class level” for an urban school.

He also told the board that, “I don’t do well with those who don’t work collaboratively.”

Shepherd was asked about ways to change Metro high schools 7 a.m. start time by saying, “We can fix the problem if it’s a priority of the board.”

Costly bus schedule changes have often been blamed for the problem, even though studies suggest kids learn better by starting later in the day.

As for Pre-K, Shepherd touted that he doubled the number of students in his North Carolina district’s program and stated, “We have got to get them early.”

Shepherd has an open forum with community leaders Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m. at Glencliff High School.

Click here to view extended coverage on the search. 

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