by Angie Asam–Staff Writer
Monday evening the Rogers City Area Schools (RCAS) board of education held a special board meeting to interview two candidates for the districts part-time superintendent position. The board had six interested parties apply for the position and the executive committee narrowed the field to the two that were interviewed.
The first candidate interviewed was a familiar face in secondary principal/athletic director David O’Bryant. His interview began at 5:30 p.m.
An interview for Ron Kraft began at approximately 7:30 p.m. Kraft has 18 years of experience as a superintendent having worked in that capacity in Harbor Beach, retiring at age 49 and then moving on to be superintendent of Hale Schools for four years. He resigned as superintendent of Hale earlier this year and then served as a mentor for the current superintendent in the transition period.
O’Bryant graduated from Ferris State University and did his student teaching in Petoskey. He then taught at Inland Lakes Schools for six years where he was also union president. He was laid off, as was his wife Rebecca, and both were able to land jobs as teachers in Rogers City in 2010. He also was named girls’ varsity basketball coach. After one year of teaching in the high school O’Bryant was named secondary principal. A year later the title of athletic director was added to his duties.
“I have poured everything I have into this district for the past five years,” he said.
Kraft outlined his 18 years of experience as a superintendent at both Harbor Beach and Hale. Kraft was superintendent of Hale when they were going through a deficit elimination plan, in danger of the state coming in. .
From there the candidates were asked what their most unique or innovative accomplishment as a superintendent/administrator was. O’Bryant talked about adding the intervention courses at the secondary level while Kraft talked about taking staff members and helping them to become better educators as they raised scores at Hale.
Many questions were asked involving collaboration, experience with bonds and other financial items, staying up to date with changes to education, interaction with staff and parents, educational trends, dealing with labor negotiations and other portions of the job. Below are a few questions and the candidates answers.
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Describe your leadership style and what are the possible weaknesses of that style.
O’Bryant: “(My) Leadership style is very open. I am very open with the staff in seeking input and advice, in sitting down and talking with them. Whether it be staff or students we try to work through problems as opposed to just dictating how it’s going to be done. We meet with several different teams to identify problems ahead of time and again rather than me sitting at the top and saying this is how we are going to do it we meet as a team and work out solutions. Weaknesses of that style, sometimes you need to just lay it down and say it needs to be done here.”
Kraft: “I believe my leadership style has changed over the 18 years. It is surely more collaborative and from a stewardship standpoint and format today. Sometime the biggest weaknesses is what decisions need to be collaborative in nature and what decisions need to be made by the CEO. For me that is the challenge. But the more associative, humanistic and self-reflecting we can all be as we go down the path and develop our leadership skills and help develop the leadership skills of those around us, the more successful long term our organizations are going to be. Early in my career I would say that I was after change. Today I am after leading sustainable change and there is a difference.”
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The executive committee will meet Jan. 5, 2016 to discuss the process and develop a path for the board to go down.
(Complete story is in the Dec. 24, 2015 edition of the Advance)