Three vie for position of Maryville director of schools

Thompson, Winstead and Ailshie will interview in November

Three names were presented to the Maryville School Board Tuesday as finalists for the director of schools position. They represent one local and two regional candidates.

Three finalists to replace retiring Maryville City Schools director Mike Dalton were announced during the school board meeting at Foothills Elementary.

Out of nine applicants, the three finalists were Dr. Lyle Ailshie, Greeneville, Tenn., City Schools director; Dr. Mike Winstead, director of curriculum and accountability for the Knox County School System; and Stephanie Thompson, the current assistant director of Maryville City Schools.

Ailshie earned his doctorate of education at East Tennessee State University. He is scheduled to be interviewed by the school board on Nov. 22.

Winstead earned his PhD from the University of Tennessee and is set to be interviewed by the school board on Nov. 28.

Thompson earned her education specialist degree in education supervision at UT and is scheduled to be interviewed on Nov. 29.

Tammy Grissom, Ed.D, executive director with the Tennessee School Boards Association, coordinated the interview process for the school board using a screening committee. The committee used criteria the board adopted.

“One of the main things I heard was you liked how things are going, you like site-based management, you were concerned about the facilities plan, and you wanted someone who was going to bring family and make Maryville their home,” she said.

Grissom said all three finalists were good candidates. “They possess all the skills you have indicated to me you wanted,” she said.

Grissom advised the school board that on the days the candidates interview, they should plan for the individuals to meet with one or two school board members for breakfast, tour the community and schools with a realtor and then have coffee with the current schools director. The candidates should then have lunch with business leaders, the mayor and members of the city council. Afterward the candidates should get a break to rest before they meet with faculty members. The candidates then would meet with the full school board late in the afternoon for the official interview. At each point the candidates would give about a 10 minute speech and then answer questions, she said.

“When you get a final candidate, you may want to visit the school district of the candidate and do digging on your own,” Grissom said.

School board member Mark Cate asked about including students in the process. “As many people as you want to involve, that would be great,” Grissom said.

Grissom assured the board members that if she was needed, she would help them again. “If you interview and need more candidates, you can come back to me, and I’ll help you any way I can,” she said.

The school board members said they were impressed with the candidates.

“I like them. They look good,” board chair Carolyn McAmis said. “They look highly qualified.”

Denny Garner said the board would go through the process and see which candidate proved themselves the very best. “I think we’ve got three great candidates,” he said.

Christi Sayles echoed his thoughts. “They look good,” she said. “They look like quality individuals we would expect.”

Mark Cate praised the TSBA process for screening the candidates. “They brought us good, top-notch candidates for us to consider,” he said.

Vice Chair Doug Jenkins said the choices to fill Dunlap’s position were solid. “I think we’ve got outstanding choices,” he said.

Thompson was the only candidate present when the announcements were made because she is the current assistant director of schools. She has 26 years in the system and praised the school board and teachers in the system. “I feel very honored to be considered,” she said. “I feel really good about the opportunity.”

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