Meet Terry Urquhart: Candidate for Clawson Superintendent
Grand Rapids area high school principal is seeking the position as superintendent of Clawson Schools.
About 15 people showed up Wednesday night for the second round of interviews for the Clawson superintendent position.
The board was scheduled to interview four candidates this week with hopes of narrowing the choices to two-three finalists after Thursday. Gerald Jennex, superintendent of Capac Community Schools, interviewed in the first round on Monday after the school board meeting.
Superintendent Cheryl Rogers announced in February that she would retire after five years of working in the district. Her retirement will be effective in June.
Terry Urquhart was the first candidate to interview Wednesday and Catherine Cost followed.
Urquhart has been with Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids for eight years as principal of Central High School. He has an Ed.S. in educational administration and a master's in sports administration. He was a high school principal in Kalamazoo Public Schools for seven years and a high school principal in Carrollton Public Schools for seven years.
"I look for excellence in students," Urquhart said at the interview. "I would be a person who does an awful lot toward academic success for students."
Urquhart answered a series of questions from board members ranging from topics such as curriculum to his experiences as a school leader. He also answered a few questions audience members submitted on paper.
Throughout the interview, the audience sat quietly, some taking notes on the responses.
At the end of the 90-minute interview, Urquhart provided board members with a packet that included a plan for his first 90 days as superintendent of Clawson, if hired.
Urquhart lives in Ada, MI, with his wife, Katherine. They have four grown children and two grandchildren.
Here are some highlights from Urquhart's responses to interview topics:
On challenges in the district
Urquhart said accountability and finances are two of the biggest challenges facing the school district. He also said school districts are challenged with making sure kids are able to compete with other students around the world.
Qualities that set him apart
Urquhart said he has experience in raising academic success, motivating staff and solving problems.
He said he is an educator who is extremely honest, can facilitate other district employees and maintain a good working relationship with the community, students and faculty.
Visible leadership examples
Urquhart discussed how he has worked with the student council at his school to expand the annual Homecoming parade. The parade now has about 115 floats each year with appearances from prominent people.
"It is kind of a silly thing but it's a positive thing because everybody is so proud of what we have accomplished," he said. "When we have that parade, our town shuts down."
On diversity, school of choice
Urquhart said he has worked in buildings that were diverse racially, spiritually and also economically. He said he wants to focus on pride and make students feel good about who they are and where they go to school.
With school of choice, Urquhart said it's important to focus on the kids who are leaving and make the district attractive to new students. He said attracting "quality students" is essential.
Recruiting quality educators and retaining
Urquhart said school districts should go after the best talent out there. He said part of this involves encouraging student teachers to be in the buildings so districts can go after them as potential teachers. He said maintaining good morale is also important to retaining good teachers.
"The key to good instruction is good teachers," Urquhart said.
Building trust with staff, community
"It's through your actions," Urquhart said. "It's the way that you react and conduct yourself as a professional."
Urquhart said it's important to be open, honest and visible in the community at school events such as high school football games. He also said he attends PTA meetings to address questions and concerns from parents.
The last candidate, Monique Beels, will be interviewed on 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Learn more about the professional and educational backgrounds of the candidates.