DEARBORN, MI – The State Board of Education has offered Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent, Mr. Brian Whiston the top superintendent job in the state. The decision came after a full day of interviewing the three top candidates followed by a thoughtful discussion on who should become the next educational leader in Michigan.
The State’s offer to Whiston will now require the Dearborn Board of Education to begin planning their search for a new superintendent in Dearborn. The next official opportunity for the Board is to develop a timeline and work out other details is scheduled for April 13.
“We’re very proud of the progress Brian has made during his time here in Dearborn and all he has done to help the students in our classrooms,” commented Dearborn Board of Education President Ms. Aimee Schoelles.
“Although we will miss him, we take comfort in knowing he will be advocating for our kids in Lansing,” she added.
This school year is Whiston’s seventh year as Superintendent in the 19,600 student district. Last year Whiston was recognized by the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA) for his hard work, leadership, innovation, and collaborative efforts by naming him the 2014 Superintendent of the Year.
Programs and initiatives put into place under Whiston’s tenure in the district have won awards, saved tax payer dollars, and most importantly provided quality instruction to the students in the classroom.
“Certainly it is going to be hard for me to leave the Dearborn Public Schools. This is a great city, a warm and caring community, and I have been honored to work with a very talented group of professionals who are dedicated to helping students learn,” commented Whiston.
“I look forward to working with the State Board of Education to bring the same success we have had in Dearborn to all students in Michigan,” he added.
State Representative George T. Darany (D-Dearborn) issued a statement, saying: “It is an honor to congratulate Dearborn’s own, Brian Whiston, on his selection as the new state superintendent of public instruction. As the superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools, Mr. Whiston established a record of excellence and showcased a true commitment to the education of our young people. Dearborn’s MEAP, MME/Act scores, and graduation rates all increased under Whiston’s watch and I am confident that his leadership, work ethic, and innovation will be extremely valuable to our state as he begins his new role and responsibilities.”
The increase in graduation rates can be attributed to another one of Whiston’s projects, the Eight-Step Graduation Plan. The plan received an Education Excellence Award by the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) for providing a unique solution to a complex educational challenge.
The Eight-Step approach has had an immediate impact at the high school grades and the District is now poised to see consistently higher graduation rates through the work being done at the elementary and middle school levels. The goal is to see all students graduate in four years.
The plan includes early intervention programs in 9th grade, addressing truancy in elementary and middle school, and providing Literacy and Math Coordinators who work with teachers to improve instructional practice in order to improve student achievement.
Currently in its second year and growing, another program started under Whiston’s watch is the Henry Ford Collegiate Academy. The program gives qualified District students an opportunity to achieve their high school diploma and associates degree in 5 years, at no cost to the student while still remaining active at their home high school. The program has won two awards, one from the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce recognizing its innovative approach and the Education Excellence award by the Michigan Business and Professional Association.
Mr. Whiston has also developed strong relationships with all of the employee groups in the district. He has worked with the Dearborn Federation of Teachers (DFT) to develop a new evaluation system designed to help students achieve in the classroom and teachers grow professionally in their careers. Through Whiston’s leadership the district and DFT were able to reach a groundbreaking contract agreement that saved thousands of dollars and included a new, innovative approach to healthcare coverage for all district teachers.
When talking about first meeting Mr. Whiston, Christine Sipperley, President of the DFT said, “Brian had an open door policy, and it became obvious very quickly that he was willing to work collaboratively, think outside the box, and listen.”
Whiston has built a strong reputation in the district as a leader that is willing to listen, work collaboratively with all stake holders, and always focus on what is best for the students in the classroom.
The State Board and Mr. Whiston will now need to work out the details of a contract before officially taking the top spot in the state.