Stakeholders should encourage Drake to lead efforts to heal relationships, rebuild community trust and maintain the progress of the district.
Drake draws support from our diverse community
The appointment by the Huntsville Board of Education of lifelong educator and retired principal, B.T. (Tom) Drake to assume the role as interim superintendent brings the potential for healing and unity to a divided school district.
With over 40 years of experience including administrative positions at Huntsville Junior High, Davis Hills Junior High, Ed White Junior High, Johnson High, Butler High, Challenger Middle, and Grissom High, Drake draws support and goodwill from a diverse community of stakeholders within Huntsville City Schools administrative staff, teachers, parents, former students and the community.
Stakeholders see in Drake an administrator with a heart for education. Drake brings with him the respect of a deep and diverse community who feel he will listen and support classroom teachers. Will Drake’s experience, integrity, common sense and confident humor be exactly what the district needs? Time, as it always does, will say for sure, but it certainly seems that Drake is the right person to lead Huntsville City Schools for the coming year.
Taking his chair at the September 15th board meeting, Drake commented, “I started in Huntsville in this building in ’66, and now it looks like I’ll be finishing up here. So it’s been a great experience, and I look forward to working with y’all.”
During the Superintendent Search Training conducted by the Alabama Association of School Boards on Tuesday afternoon, the current school board members along with the two new elected board members compiled a list of district challenges:
DOJ implementation / Unitary status
Continue innovation with limited dollars
Close the achievement gap while pushing high flyers
Public relations / Community relations / Social media
Work with a diverse community
Create a mentoring positive atmosphere / Morale
Return textbooks to student in addition to tech
Transparency / Public perception
Unify the city
Keep budget balanced / Maintain reserves
While long-term decision-making may not be an appropriate role for Drake, as the interim superintendent, he can go beyond managing the district and maintaining progress to providing leadership that brings unity to a divided community and revives community confidence. He can make the tough calls necessary to address this list of challenges.
The board stated that Drake’s position as interim superintendent position would preclude him from applying for the permanent position. It’s likely Drake will have a very different relationship with the board than the previous Superintendent had and Drake’s relationship with the board will be different than his successor’s. Drake can rely on his experience and do what is best for the school district without concern about his livelihood or the impact on his future career.
Drake assumes his vital role in school leadership at a critical time. Stakeholders should see Drake’s role as the interim superintendent as more than a caretaker keeping the seat warm for his successor and encourage him in his efforts to address hurts, lead the effort to heal relationships and rebuild community trust. By doing so, Drake will help the district compete for the best superintendent candidates in a national search and successfully prepare the district for our next superintendent.