Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Candidates for Top County School Post Interviewed

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Candidates for Top County School Post Interviewed

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | Interviews with the Tuscaloosa County School System's superintendent finalists continued Wednesday morning and afternoon with Elizabeth Swindford and Brenda Rickett.

Swinford has been superintendent of the Vicksburg Warren School District in Mississippi since 2010. Before that, she served as associate superintendent of human resources at the 43,000-student East Baton Rouge Parish School System in Louisiana from 2003 to 2010.

Though she's a superintendent, Swindford said she believes in staying in the classroom and modeling proper teaching techniques for her teachers. She said that way, she gets to make sure that teachers of the same grade level are on the same page and that students are learning what they're supposed to.

Swindford said her experiences as a superintendent, a human resources director and an assistant principal at systems in three different states has helped her turn four failing schools around.

"Don't let the skirt fool you," Swindford said. "I can get the job done."

Swindford said her No. 1 job as superintendent is to take the board's vision to the students, employees and the community. She said it's also important that the system provide the teachers what they need to get the job done.

When asked why she was interested in the county school system, Swindford said she likes a challenge.

"I'm a gutsy young lady," she said. "You have some challenges, some gaps in your system. You have some schools that haven't met AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). You have some big gaps between your white and black students.

"I think I have a lot to bring to the table," she said. "I have a different perspective and I have a different background. You've set yourself up to do well, but you can use some improvement as well."

Swindford said she'd act as the board's liaison and be the system's biggest cheerleader. She said she would make the system's accomplishments visible on social media or on billboards so people in the community would know the good things the system is doing.

She said she'd also go into each of the schools and spend time with students to find out what their interests are and adjust the curriculum so students could be taught subjects they were interested in.

Swindford said she believes that one of the best ways to improve education in the county school system is to collect performance data on the system's students and create benchmarks. She said they'd find out the students' level of performance and create plans to help each of them individually get to where they need to be.

Asked her thoughts on career tech, Swindford said she thinks it's not just a class, but the start of a career.

"It's a profession, and every child needs a pathway," she said.

Swinford started her career in education as assistant principal for the Morongo Unified School District in California in 1996. …

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