TCAPS Interviews Candidates; Is Resigning From a Previous Job a Big Whoop?

On Monday and Tuesday, the TCAPS board virtually interviewed the two finalists for the superintendent position. The two finalists are Dr. John VanWagoner of Alpena and Dr. Denise Herrmann of Roseville, California. Both of the candidates have strong credentials, and they would both be good hires.

It’s rather optimistic that the candidates have 100-day plans given that Ann Cardon lasted 84 days. They should be explaining their 85-day plans instead.

Takeaways from VanWagoner’s interview:

  • Dr. VanWagoner thinks we can lobby state and federal governments for additional school funding instead of making budget cuts. In other words, he thinks Uncle Larry will fix it. Someone needs to tell him that Uncle Larry doesn’t have a lot of pull anymore, and Uncle Wayne was the one talking about budget cuts in the first place.
  • Dr. VanWagoer kissed the brass ring of The Blueprint well enough, but he probably paid a little bit too much respect to Calhoun ISD for any board members who still have ambitions with Grant Chandler.
  • He used the word “seat time waiver.” We’re TCAPS. We don’t need no stinkin seat time waivers.
  • Interesting that he’s been in Alpena only four years. Is TCAPS a stepping stone? Does he have bigger aspirations? You know, like the ones Paul Soma had too but never fulfilled?

About Dr. Denise Herrmann’s interview

Dr. Herrmann talked about building relationships and a united purpose. She also used the word Blueprint, so she hit that buzzword.

It’s interesting to me that people have been harping on Dr. Herrmann’s resigning from her last district but they’re not harping on the fact that VanWagoner wants to leave to his current district after only four years. You would think that they would value a person’s ability to quit given what happened with Ann Cardon.

Dr. Herrmann resigned from her current position in April, 2020. Her resignation came immediately after her being named a finalist for the TCAPS job.

You’ll recall that several board members harped on the fact that Herrmann is from out of the area. One suggested not even wanting to expend the funds to fly someone to interview from the strange land of California when they could just drive down from Alpena. Maybe Herrmann resigned in order to show her sincerity in her TCAPS application, especially since that seemed to be the biggest doubt in her application. Second, the news article says that she was on leave at the time of her resignation. People go on leave for personal reasons. In Herrmann’s interview, she talks about her husband’s death. Maybe she resigned in order to allow her school district to move forward, and because it was the right thing to do. All of these things should weigh in Herrmann’s favor, not against her.

Here is Kelly Hall suggesting that a superintendent resigning is no biggie:

Hall says: “If the Board and the Superintendent part ways, it would not be a tragedy that ruins the organization. Sometimes things don’t work out.” That was in the context of Ann Cardon. But in the context of Dr. Herrmann resigning, all of a sudden it’s a biggie?

Also from Kelly Hall:

“I wonder if the search consultant informed the TCAPS Board of these developments, if the candidate disclosed to TCAPS her leave of absence & resignation…”

What do the TCAPS establishment supporters, like Kelly Hall and others, have to gain from their disapproval of Herrmann? Is it sour grapes that Jame McCall didn’t make the cut? Is the suggestion of mending fences too much for people who want to continue to be divisive?

I believe that Dr. VanWagoner will get the job. While he’s no Paul Soma, or Jame McCall, I believe he will maintain the status quo while giving Blueprint lip service to challenging the status quo. Doing so is why he will survive at TCAPS. However, Dr. Herrmann is probably what TCAPS needs.

What are your predictions? Tell us about it in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “TCAPS Interviews Candidates; Is Resigning From a Previous Job a Big Whoop?”

  1. Ms. Jamil, Sperry, or whatever the real name is of the author of this blog, for the record, I have never expressed “disapproval” of Dr. Herrmann. Rather, I questioned why her leave of absence and resignation were not disclosed by her or the search consultant during her first interview. Transparency matters.

  2. Kelly Hall, I’m flattered that anyone would think me capable of being the author of Dirty Traverse. But once again, you are wrong. The author and I (and thousands of others) merely agree on TCAPS issues. Most of us have common sense and exercise critical thinking. At some point you might want to consider that I’m not the only one with a poor opinion of TCAPS leadership, or of you for that matter.

  3. Board Members “harping” on a candidate being from out of the area paid a search firm EXTRA to make the search nation wide. I have said from the start that this was nothing more than an expensive fraud to make it appear that this board was making a legitimate search for the right candidate, when in fact they had other intentions. I have to wonder how the candidate that they really intended to implant into the position is feeling right now, although it looks like they may have settled for the next best thing for them

  4. Kelly Hall, when you were first elected to the board — along with Julie Puckett… back when Marjorie Rich was on the board… and Gary Appel… and even Megan Crandell (with her own set of personal issues) — well… there was integrity in that school board. You approached your work thoughtfully and really did you very best for the community. There were some very smart teachers and very smart leaders within TCAPS and good things were happening. Sadly, many of those teachers and leaders are gone… and the board you once served so well is no longer in existence either. This current school board is limited, at best. Unlike the board you were a part of back in the day that wanted to serve the community — this board wants to serve their own personal interests. They are not good for the community and you know more than anyone that some of the moves they have made have been completely idiotic. You know better, Kelly. Please give me ever reason to believe that you are still a person of good intentions and principles. You were then… it was clear. I hope you’ll still be that way. I’d hate the community to lose someone decent like you, just because you want to be supportive of the “idea” of a good school board. And they’re not. And you know that.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Mark. It was the highest honor to serve on the TCAPS school board and to serve with the other people you mention, all of whom remain my close friends. I have high hopes that Dr. VanWagoner will help lead TCAPS to greatness and help heal wounds that are obviously still very raw. My kids have been well served by many amazing teachers and staff at TCAPS and I truly believe that TCAPS serves as the primary safety net for many in our community. I am the first to admit that I made mistakes while on the Board, and I try not to publicly attack others who are serving. I honestly agree that transparency is the best policy, within the bounds of the law and its protections for individuals’ privacy rights. I also completely recognize that it is time for me to step aside and let a new generation of leaders lead TCAPS. We are fortunate to live in a community that cares about its public school system. I am hopeful that the days ahead for TCAPS and our community are ones of healing, and ultimately, positive growth.

      1. Kelly, I believe all that you’ve just written to be true. If I’ve heard and understood you — you love our community, you love our schools, you want the best for TCAPS. Have I heard you right? Bottom line: You care a lot about this place healing and great things happening for all those within our public school system.

        Your service to the community shows just that, in my opinion. You worked really hard as a board member. Relatively new to the community from what I understand, Ms. Jamil may not have that first-hand experience of observing you in action — the thoughtful questions you posed, the dedicated manner in which you approached your work on the school board. This is not a fault of Ms. Jamil in any way — she just may not have been here at the time when you were a new board member trying to do really good things.

        Kelly, where things went wrong is when you and your colleagues went with Paul Soma to be leader of TCAPS. I don’t want to get on a “let’s bash Soma” rampage. It’s just that Kelly, he knew dollars, he didn’t know teaching and learning. He knew operations, he didn’t know what it’s like when teachers and students get together in classrooms and what it takes to invest in human needs. And yes, he was a bit of a hot-head and stubborn and spouted off. You know that to be true. We all know that to be true. His tears at public board meetings didn’t wash over the fact that he caused a lot of ill-will among the humans in the system.

        His lack of experience with really understanding teaching and learning and leadership — mixed with his shortcomings to be patient and kind and thoughtful and compassionate caused a lot of harm.

        And Kelly, the board then hired Sander Scott as Associate Superintendent — and that’s probably the next thing that wound up causing such horrible grief and anger in the community. I also don’t want to rip on Sander Scott — but Kelly, he was also very limited in being able to think deeply about human needs. Sander was interested in moving up the ladder of his career — and that’s nothing to begrudge. But it came at the expense of relationships. He didn’t have the emotional intelligence to step in and be kind when needed. He didn’t have the vision to work on interactions and relationships… so together with Soma, you had two men at the top who were not a good combination for the district. And I’m sure that’s not what you intended — but that’s indeed what happened.

        Jame, though a work-horse, doesn’t really connect well with humans in a compassionate way. So that got thrown in the mix. And Chris Parker — well, he definitely had the people-connection side to him, but thrown in with Sander and Jame and Soma… Chris couldn’t bring leadership. He needed a stronger mentor, and TCAPS didn’t have one on deck at that time to help him along.

        This is where it all went south, Kelly. So I don’t doubt your integrity or love for the community.

        All of these people listed — Soma, Sander, Jame, Chris — they have strengths on various fronts. It was just not a good combination of strengths, or egos, or ambitions… and then things started to unravel.

        Many thoughtful, reflective teachers have left… many thoughtful, reflective leaders have left… And then someone like Ms. Jamil comes to the community and see the shambles, rather than the quality that has been here. So I admire her wanting to step in and make a difference. In fact, I think the TCAPS 5 team were pretty smart, thoughtful human-beings. But their approach was off-putting to many, unfortunately.

        Ms. Jamil — TCAPS did have wonderful people in its system, critically thinking, wanting a lot of innovation. And under the surface, there are still those in the ranks that indeed have that ability to be innovative and reflective. They just got dampened down by the limited capacities of the top leaders I listed above. Please know there are great people still within TCAPS (despite the many who have left.) They just need a good leader to bring that back to the foreground. And yes, Ann Cardon probably could have done that… but the power structure in place became a brick wall pretty quick. Please continue to love and grow our community. But maybe don’t “fight” so much? If you could reframe your efforts with a lot of empathy and compassion, you’ll see there’s a lot of good here. I don’t know you, but I can’t help but like you and applaud your care for the community — you’re associated with some really smart people who I think the world of.

        And Kelly, it’s not helpful for you to be adversarial, like the way you started this entire comment section with a jab at Ms. Jamil. Why do that? Kelly Hall, you are better than that. I TRULY believe your honest intentions and everything you said about wanting healing in the district and community. So it makes me sad when your comments could be misconstrued as keeping battles alive and throwing punches. I’ve ALWAYS admired you, so please, keep being the good person you are.

        I suspect you and Ms. Jamil would find yourselves on the same side of many aspirations for our public system of education. But not with the back-and-forth jabs. I wish you two would actually go to coffee (or pick it up and sit outside) and talk… hear each other, see each other as humans. Reflect, don’t react. I bet you’d find yourselves caring for each other AND the community even more.

        1. Mark Smith, I cannot thank you enough for this thoughtful comment. You seem to be someone with incredible vision and ability to build bridges. Your criticisms seem spot on, including those about me. Your advice is appreciated and I will take it to heart. Please feel free to contact me directly via FB if you would like to discuss more. Thank you again for rising above the fray for the benefit of TCAPS.

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