Matthew Akin preparing to lead Huntsville City Schools

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Matthew Akin, as the newly appointed superintendent, will soon be moving to the Rocket City to lead Huntsville City Schools.

He told WHNT News 19 by phone that he is excited about the opportunity.

"There are so many positive things going on in Huntsville City Schools, including lots of innovation," he explained. "The foundation is set for some great things to happen. There are many opportunities in Huntsville and I can't wait to get there."

The School Superintendents of Alabama supports new superintendents, even counseling them as they go through their transition to a new job. Its Executive Director, Eric Mackey, often has long talks with newly appointed superintendents, including Akin.

He says his first piece of advice is always: "Spend more time listening than you do talking those first few months."

Huntsville City School Board President Elisa Ferrell said Akin has already expressed interest in holding meetings with stakeholders in the community as one of his first tasks when he moves into his new office.

But, Akin has many other challenges ahead. One of those includes leading a school system much larger than Piedmont City Schools where he works now. Mackey doesn't believe Akin will have much trouble, though.

"We've had a lot of experience from people who move from very small systems (if they've had a lot of time in those small systems) to large systems.  They're able to take that experience and be very successful," he explained in a Skype interview from his Montgomery office on Tuesday. "They have experiences across a wide spectrum and they're able to take that and scale it up to a large district."

Akin himself explained to the board during his televised interview that he feels prepared.

"You surround yourself with smart people.  But, I know in the back of my mind what expectations to have because more than likely, I've done it," he said. "The skills that I have that I use in a small district certainly are transferable to this district."

Work on the consent order toward unitary status will also be a challenge.

So will getting to know all the people Akin needs to know to efficiently run the system.

"He's going to have to spend a lot of time in the next few months just getting to know people," explained Mackey. "That's always a challenge when a new superintendent comes in."

We asked Mackey about the 3-2 divided board vote.

"That certainly is a challenge," said Mackey, "But as I often advise them as long as you keep that in mind, you're working for everybody and not just a segment of the population, I certainly think success is in the future."

Overall Mackey believes Akin is coming in well prepared.

"He is a member of the League of Innovative Schools," noted Mackey. "I think he's coming in ahead of the game because he's had a lot of experiences. He's going to bring a lot of outside experience to Huntsville City Schools."