Huntsville City School Board interviews fifth superintendent finalist Matthew Akin

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Matthew Akin, Superintendent of Piedmont City Schools, took his turn before the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education Monday. He was the last of five finalists to formally interview for the superintendent position.

It was Akin's birthday, and his wife drove up to Huntsville to sit in the audience.

Akin described his philosophy: "We should all have an urgency, a strong sense of urgency, to provide the best education possible to all of our students, all the time." He said it's often easy to lose sight of that during the daily grind, but their duty as educators is to stay true to the students.

Akin said his idea of communication involves creating relationships and supporting teachers by being present in the schools.

"My plan is to spend at least two half-days per week in classrooms in the district," he explained. "I'm getting some looks like, 'Yeah, that may be your plan...' but you have to make time to do that. Because the most important work that's being done in the school system is being done in classrooms." He said the purpose of those visits would not be to evaluate teachers, but "elevate" them.

As the school system seeks unitary status to get out from under a federal desegregation order, Akin said he is ready to lead. He said the consent decree is a road map toward his vision.

"I want to lead this school system into being a model school system for this country. And the path is in place," he commented.

Akin said he likes what he sees in Huntsville, citing his own past as an innovator in Piedmont.

"I believe in the potential of Huntsville, it's why I'm sitting here," he told the board. "I've got a great job, and I work for a great board. But the reason I'm sitting here is I believe in that potential in Huntsville and recognize there's the foundation in place to support greatness."

Now Akin's interview is over, the board begins its decision process.