First impressions are important, especially when meeting the parents and educators of thousands of students in Hartford.
This morning at a forum inside Capital Community College, the two finalists poised to take the role of superintendent introduced themselves to community residents and businesses with a vested interest in the future of Hartford Public Schools.
“It's very important to us to see how the new superintendent will address some of the disparities amongst the schools in Hartford,” said Attorney Lynn Cochrane from the Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Inc. The nonprofit law firm advocates for students with disabilities.
Candidates were not allowed to speak one-on-one with media. But attendees did get to hear from each candidate in small groups.
Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez told attendees she feels she shares similar beliefs with the Capital City that education has the power to transform the lives of children. Narvaez is currently the Deputy Superintendent of School Support and Improvement in Montgomery County Public Schools, one of Maryland’s top school systems. She’s a two-time Harvard grad who’s also worked in Springfield Public Schools.
The other finalist, Dr. Ronald Taylor is a Morehouse grad who focused on early childhood education. He also attended Trinity College and George Washington University. In his nearly 20-year career that started as a teacher, he’s worked in D.C., Boston, Newark and Willingboro Public Schools.
“Even in the most daunting circumstances, you approach should be research based,” said Taylor, when talking to attendees.
But Andrea Johnson, the president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, says their teachers union was not involved in the search for a new superintendent. Johnson attended the afternoon forum for administrators and teachers and said she hopes whoever the new leader is has an open ear.
“Somebody who would work with all the stakeholders… parents, neighbors, community folks, and have a good relationship," Johnson said. "I think that's what Hartford needs right now – a good, solid relationship for all partners in this district.”
The last forum will be held tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., also inside the 11th floor auditorium of Capital Community College on Main Street in Hartford.
Officials hope the new candidate will be in place and ready to go by the start of next school year.