NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – H. Allen Smith, the second of three finalists for Metro’s open Director of Schools position, wrapped up a second round of interviews with the school board Wednesday.
Smith was able to offer more details about how he would lead Metro-Nashville’s nearly 86,000 students, 6,000 teachers, and interact with both the city and its school board.
Smith, currently the Chief of Schools in Oakland, California, is the one who has drawn some criticism from teacher groups he has worked with. Some allege he has been involved in mass firings.
“I truly believe that—coming from a family where my mother was a teacher, my aunt was a teacher, grandma a teacher and my godmother a superintendent—that you cannot fire your way to the top, nor have I ever been involved in any mass firings,” he explained to the board.
The board quickly moved beyond the issue of “mass firings,” wanting to hear about his management style, testing ideas, and turning around those persistently underperforming schools.
It starts with “getting the culture right,” Smith said.
“The culture of the school has to be seeped in high expectations for every student. If that is not something people believe in, then truly that is not the right place for them,” he further explained.
Afterward, he was asked how badly he wants the job of Metro Schools director.
“I want it really bad. Not only do I want the job, but I want to be in Nashville,” he told News 2. “My family is looking forward to the transition and this in an opportunity for me that is not just a professional challenge.”
His family includes his wife Yana, who currently works with Smith in the Oakland California Unified School District in what’s called the Senior Leadership Team.
“She is coming with me. We are going to be a package deal in that sense, and I am not going to shy away from the fact she is an expert at what she does, but she is not planning on working in the school district,” added Smith.
Like the other candidates, Smith meets with the Metro Council Wednesday afternoon and will hold a public forum later that night.
Another candidate, Shawn Joseph, interviewed Tuesday morning and held a community forum later that night.