Dr. Shawn Joseph outlines plan for new school year

Dr. Shawn Joseph (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dr. Shawn Joseph is the man with the plan for Metro Nashville Public Schools and is getting ready for his first year on the job.

He sat down with News 2 for a one-on-one interview to talk about a number of things, from his plan for his first 100 days to how easy it’s going to be for parents to get ahold of him and his team when they have a problem.

But everyone is still in the getting to know you phase and there are several things he wants Metro Schools parents to know about him. Which is most importantly that he is a Metro Schools parent as well.

“I’m going through what they’re going through,” says Dr. Joseph. “I will know firsthand the quality of our schools and the successes and challenges and we’ll work to correct them as any good parent would.”

Dr. Joseph is Nashville’s first African American Director of Schools. To him that means many of his diverse students are now being led by someone who looks like them.

But he also says he doesn’t want that to be the only legacy he leaves here.

“They just happen to have a superintendent who is African American and I’m sure that’s exciting for some,” says Dr. Joseph. “I know I’m the first but I’m sure I won’t be the last. I hope to produce the next superintendent down the line coming from Nashville to come back and take this when I’m done.”

So he’s looking at the long term including the hundreds of families that are moving here by the day and how quickly his district is going to continue to grow.

But the most immediate thing on his plate is filling 200 positions that includes teacher positions in just three weeks before the first day of school.

“We have lots of people in the pool particularly at the elementary levels so we feel pretty confident at elementary level well start with our schools fully staffed,” says Dr. Joseph. “At the middle and high school level were looking at special education classes our English learned level classes some of our math classes. That’s where were having some more challenge.”

He also told us yesterday that if for some reason some of these teaching positions are not filled they go to their worst case scenario which is skyping from some of the best teachers in other classes until the position is filled.

During the interview process the school board was really looking for someone who is passionate about being engaged with the community… So it’s not surprising dr. Joseph already has a protocol in place for when you have an issue at your child’s school and you need him to listen.

“When they call they should expect to get a response quickly within 24 hours,” says Dr. Joseph. “And they should expect someone on the other side of the phone or in person with an empathetic ear really working to try and solve whatever issue is brought to them.”

We know he’s been doing a lot of listening in the last week with the listen and learn sessions he’s held at different high schools where parents got to bring their comments, questions concerns.

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