PRS: Charles Ledbetter


Pike Road school superintendent finalist answers your questions

, Montgomery AdvertiserPublished 3:35 p.m. CT May 10, 2017 | Updated 4:28 p.m. CT May 10, 2017

Citizens of Pike Road had a chance to meet hear from Charles Ledbetter, the finalist for school superintendent.

More than 100 families, parents and community leaders were on hand at the Tuesday night meeting. Board members allowed Ledbetter to present his leadership style, his stance on discipline and structure in the classroom and his thoughts on the school’s current method of teaching, the “Pike Road Way.”

Many of the questions asked were derived from questions and concerns parents and other community members expressed during about a dozen public community meetings held to help select a new superintendent follow current Superintendent Suzanne Freeman’s retirement. The official announcement will be made on Monday. Here are some of the questions that were asked.

Question: What drew you to Pike Road Schools?

Answer: “I grew up in Auburn down the road and spent a lot of my career in Tallapoosa County, Alabama history is really my thing and one of my favorite places in the state is the archives building. So I’ve been watching with interest as an educator and a coach just what was going on at Pike Road as this community has gone from the back county road to get to 231 to forming a city, forming a school system and I’ve been watching that with piqued interest.

“It was something I wanted to be a part of … It’s also personal, being from this area I have grandchildren in both directions.”

Q: What is your understanding of the Pike Road Way and what does it mean to you?

A: “It begins with wanting to engage our students and creating intellectual curiosity of making sure students have that thirst for learning, but it’s also bigger than that. It engages the entire community and says we want to do things the right way, we want to do things that shows this is truly a special place.

“I think project-based learning is a big piece of learning today, not just today, but it’s always has been. Prior to 150 years ago, that’s how everyone learned at the hip of their parent or by an apprentice. So you learn those skills in a way to read and write and then you apply those skills in hands-on learning. We want to keep students engaged.”

Q: We do not have a tradition grading system at this time, so we can focus on learning and mastering rather than a grade. What are your thoughts on that?

A: “That’s something i have to access with the staff and get involved with more before I can go a long way into it. I will say I think it’s fair for parents to say that they want to know where their child is their learning. So let’s look at that. We have assessments and I know that if we look at that, it’s something we can do very well if we work together we can address those things quickly.”

Q: There was a common theme in the community meetings, one of those was the issue of structure and discipline. How are you going to be more consistent to make discipline a constant theme?

A: “Discipline in education is different than discipline in the family. We need consistent consequences and consistent discipline. We all as adults want to know where the line is, so the same with students. One of the things I learned, and young teachers especially, there are times they will say they will let them get away with something one time because I’m doing them a favor. The trouble is they think it’s a favor, but that child is thinking that’s not where the line is. Let me find that line and go a little further. It goes further because there weren’t consequences that were fair, rand relative to the issue and consistently doing that does make a difference.

Q: How do we have structure and discipline and still maintain the Pike Road Way?

A: “To not just say we’re going to be outside the box, but that we are going to build new boxes. To me structure is not necessarily discipline. Structure is the parameters of a situation or of an event and we build new structures that we need, because we all need structure, but to make sure we build the ones that we need for what we want to accomplish. Students need to know where their parameters are. There is never an excuse to not have supervision.”

Q: Talk about your communication style.

A: “It’s a several pronged-approach. One is a formal setting where we bring stakeholders together much like this, parents and community members. Another piece is continual conversation. Everywhere I go I give out my cell phone number and you’ll all have it. The quicker we can deal with problems the better. I get out in the community. A lot of issues can be solved at the ball park or at the grocery store. You have to be available. The last piece is ‘superintendent coffee talks’ where every month we set up in a different place at a different time to talk and I tell them about what’s going on at the school.”

Q: What are your goals in moving Pike Road School forward?

A: “The first thing is it’s not about me. It’s not my plan or my vision. You have to have a community that comes together around a plan of the community’s vision. My job is to lead that, show you possibilities to make this want we want. We will work together to make Pike Road School the best school system around.”

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