Whittle motto: Doing the right things right

Published 4:04 pm Tuesday, March 2, 2010

BOE Superintendent candidate Allin Whittle, who currently serves as superintendent of operations for the Butler County School System, told the BOE his motto is simple: “Doing the right things right.”

The life-long resident of Butler County and 25-year veteran of the classroom and administrative offices in the public school system, told the board members during his Saturday interview “the world is made up of three kinds of people.”

“You have those who run around in circles; those who do the right things, but not in the right way, and then the ones who do the right things right. And that’s the way I would operate as a superintendent,” Whittle said.

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For the system’s schools to be successful, Whittle said three things are key: wholesome communication, academic achievement and order and discipline.

“Without discipline, teachers cannot teach and learners cannot learn,” Whittle said.

“We need to give our children roots and wings.”

Forward movement has been made in the system, he said.

“Look at the graduation and drop-out rates from 2005 compared to 2009. The drop-out rate has gone from 26 percent down to nine percent. The graduation rate has gone up from 61 percent to 82 percent. Now, where do we go from here?” Whittle queried.

“We need to assess finances and restructure according to budget restraints; bring our stakeholders to a common consensus; seek board approval and build capacity into all certified and support personnel.”

Whittle said he would be the systems “greatest cheerleader” if chosen for the position.

“I see myself as the cheerleader, coach, CEO – the point person for the board. A super will be successful if he has a good staff and good teachers,” he said. “Caring and concerned teachers can’t be bought, legislated or created in college. But you can do things to motivate and enhance.”

He stressed his belief the superintendent should make sure all information is factual and accurate before passing it to the board and keep the board informed “24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

In terms of working with the board, Whittle said he believed in and would accept constructive criticism. “If I bring something before the board and it is voted down, I would talk individually and collectively with the members. If it is still not passed, it is dead,” he said.

“I realize the board and I will not be in agreement at all times and it should never be a rubber stamp situation. Let it be a democratic process with discussion. Once a decision is made, we will have to live with it. I will institute an open door policy where anyone is more than welcome to come to my office and talk with me.”

According to Whittle, getting the community and parents supportive and involved is crucial to the system.

“I could see us holding town hall meetings around the county to discuss the hopes, dreams and desires for this system,” he said. “Also, I think the superintendent should be out there attending civic meetings and sharing information about the system to make the public aware of what is going on in our schools.”

Unless circumstances dictate he be in his office, Whittle says he plans to be in the schools at different times and days of the week.

“I won’t be out there trying to catch something that’s wrong; just being available and doing the right thing for our children,” he said.

He plans to have a strong working relationship with the media, saying it is sometimes “the only way to really get the message out to people. We have to make the media stakeholders, too, in the process.”

As a former Agribusiness teacher, Whittle said business, industry and the classroom should work hand in hand together. “When companies come knocking at the door, they will be more than happy to come here because we have the necessary education and technology in place,” Whittle said.

In terms of discipline in the schools, he stressed all students should be aware their actions bring consequences.

“I’d rather do the good consequences. But you have to do the bad ones, too. They may not like it, but they will learn to respect it,” Whittle said.

He described his management style as one focused on developing a positive work environment, revolving around the needs of the children being served. Getting more parental involvement is also vitally important, he says.

“Every child has something good about them, we need to share those good things with the parents. PTA is good, but something personal and direct is even better. Put the child out front; look to remove obstacles in the way. Act as if it is important for the parents to be there and they will come,” Whittle said.

Professional development decisions should be made after “lots of observation and data collection.”

In his first year of leadership, Whittle said he would frequently refer back to the Strategic Plan and determine the system’s strengths and witnesses. “It will be data-driven decision making,” he said.

Curriculum should be scientifically based instruction. “Validity, validity – does it do what is says it is going to do?” Whittle said.

He sees his greatest administrative strength as his ability to organize. “I can see what the situation is, break it down and make it understandable to others. I have done that time and time again,” Whittle said.