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Finalists announced for Huntsville Superintendent of Education

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A busy month is coming up for Huntsville's Board of Education. On Thursday evening, the board announced the names of the five finalists for Huntsville Superintendent of Education. A series of interviews for each candidate will soon begin.  These interviews will be open to the public.

Seventy candidates began the application process, and 45 completed it, seeking the job from 24 different states.

Finalists

The five finalists for Huntsville Superintendent are:

Dr. Matthew Akin Photo: Piedmont City Schools

Dr. Matthew Akin
Photo: Piedmont City Schools

Dr. Matthew Y. Akin - Piedmont, Alabama

  • Current Position: Superintendent
  • Employer: Piedmont City Board of Education, Alabama
  • Experience: Superintendent, Piedmont City Schools, Alabama, 2003-Current High School Principal, Piedmont City Schools, 2000-2003 Coordinator of Administrative Services, Piedmont City Schools, 1999-2002
  • Education: Doctorate, Samford University, Educational Leadership Master’s, Jacksonville State University, Education Administration Master’s, University of Alabama, Mathematics and Secondary Education Bachelor’s, Jacksonville State University, Mathematics and Secondary Education
Dr. Agnella Katrise Perera Photo: Twitter @akperera

Dr. Agnella Katrise Perera
Photo: Twitter @akperera

Dr. Agnella Katrise Perera - Humble, Texas

  • Most Recent Position: National Director of Urban Markets
  • Employer: McGraw Hill Education
  • Experience:  National Director of Urban Markets, McGraw Hill Education 2015-June 2017, Superintendent, Isle of Wright County Schools, Virginia, 2011-2015 Area Superintendent, Houston Independent School District, Texas, 2010-2011 Deputy Superintendent and Principal, Henrico County Public Schools, Virginia, 2004-2011 Assistant Principal, Henrico County Public Schools, 2001-2004 Teacher, Henrico County Public Schools, Charlottesville City, Virginia, 1994-2001
  • Education: Doctorate, Virginia Tech, Educational Leadership and Policy Study Master’s, Virginia Commonwealth University, Administration Supervision Master’s, Mary Baldwin College, Teaching and Education Bachelor’s, University of Louisiana, Merchandising and Marketing
Dr. Verna Ruffin Photo: Jackson-Madison County Schools

Dr. Verna Ruffin
Photo: Jackson-Madison County Schools

Dr. Verna D. Ruffin - Jackson, Tennessee

  • Current Position: Superintendent
  • Employer: Jackson-Madison County Board of Education, Tennessee
  • Experience: Superintendent, Jackson-Madison County Schools, Tennessee, 2013-Current Area/Assistant Superintendent, Tulsa Public Schools, Oklahoma, 2007-2013 Principal/Director, Judson Independent School District, Texas 2001-2007 Band Director, Assistant Principal, Principal, Lafayette Parish Schools, Louisiana, 1975-2001
  • Education: Doctorate, University of Oklahoma, Education Administration, Curriculum, Leadership Education Specialist, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Educational Administration and Supervision Master’s, Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, Instructional Music Education Bachelor’s, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Instrumental Music Education
Dr. Sandra Spivey Photo: Scottsboro City Schools

Dr. Sandra Spivey
Photo: Scottsboro City Schools

Dr. Sandra W. Spivey - Scottsboro, Alabama

  • Current Position: Superintendent
  • Employer: Scottsboro City Board of Education, Alabama
  • Experience: Superintendent, Scottsboro City Board of Education, Alabama, 2015-Current Regional Support Coordinator, Alabama State Department of Education, Alabama, 2014-2014 Director of Secondary Education, Madison County Schools, Alabama, 2007-2014 Adjunct Professor, Samford University, Alabama, 2008-2014 Principal, Hoover City Schools, Alabama, 2005-2006 Principal, High School, Alexander City Schools, Alabama, 2003-2005 Principal, Middle School, Alexander City Schools, 2002-2003 Assistant Principal, Alexander City Schools, 1998-2002 Teacher and Coach, Alexander City Schools, 1991-1998
  • Education: Doctorate, Auburn University, Educational Leadership Education Specialist, Auburn University Montgomery, Educational Leadership Master’s, Auburn University, Secondary Mathematics Education Bachelor’s, Auburn University, Secondary Mathematics and English Education
Dr. Robyne Thompson Photo: East Lansing Board of Education

Dr. Robyne Thompson
Photo: East Lansing Board of Education

Dr. Robyne Thompson - Clinton Township, Michigan

  • Current Position: Superintendent
  • Employer: East Lansing Board of Education, Michigan
  • Experience: Superintendent, East Lansing Public Schools, Michigan, 2014-Current Assistant Superintendent, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Michigan 2012-2014 Principal, Utica Community Schools, Michigan, 2004-2012 Assistant Principal, Utica Community Schools, Michigan, 2000-2004 Principal, Mount Clemens Junior Academy, Michigan, 1997-2000
  • Education: Doctorate, Oakland University, Education Administration Education Specialist, Eastern Michigan University, Educational Administration Master’s, Northeastern State University, Higher Education/ Business Bachelor’s, Northeastern State University, Business Education

The Alabama Association of School Boards was hired to help find a new leader for the district, using criteria set by the Huntsville Board of Education and community assessments. The AASB conducted advertising, processed applications, and reviewed credential/reference verifications in order to select the five finalists. It was a nationwide search for a cost of $14,000.

"I was very pleased with how it turned out," said AASB search consultant Terry Jenkins. "We had some quality applicants."

Complications

Jenkins said a few applicants either chose not to continue with the application process for various reasons, or dropped out of it once they were being considered.

He said two dropped out within the past week, after researching Huntsville City Schools.

"One of them stated that based on the research they had one into the school system here, and social media, and other things they encountered, they did not want to subject their family to that," he explained. Later, in an interview, he mentioned it may have to do with rumors that "aren't necessarily true at all."

He said it's not uncommon for applicants to remove their names for one reason or another. Some of them are offered raises to stay where they are once their boards find out they've applied, for instance.

Board Members' Reaction

Board members said these five finalists are proof they have lots of work ahead of them.

"Not only are they superintendents, they've been principals and they've been teachers," said board president Elisa Ferrell, "so that's good."

She said she will call the finalists to set up interviews, and is looking forward to community feedback. That's something they're expecting, and counting on, as the finalists travel to Huntsville to be interviewed.

WHNT News 19 will follow the superintendent interview process, and you can submit your opinions about each candidate to Huntsville City Schools at this link.

What's next?

There will be additional meetings later in the month where the school board will interview these five finalists. Here is the rest of January's schedule:

Thursday, January 12th, 2017 / 5:30 pm
Regular Board Meeting

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 / 5:30 pm
Superintendent Finalist Candidate #1 interview

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 / 5:30 pm
Superintendent Finalist Candidate #2 interview

Thursday, January 19th, 2017 / 5:30 pm
Superintendent Finalist Candidate # 3 interview

Friday, January 20th, 2017 / 5:30 pm
Superintendent Finalist Candidate #4 interview

Monday, January 23, 2017 / 5:30 pm
Superintendent Finalist Candidate #5 interview

Monday, January 30, 2017 / 5:30 pm
Superintendent Finalist Selection

Each of the meetings will be broadcast live on ETV (Comcast channel 17, WOW channel 3 and on the web at HuntsvilleCitySchools.org.