MEMPHIS School Board Questionnaire Name: Cynthia A. Gentry, Ph.D.

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1 MEMPHIS School Board Questionnaire 2008 Name: Cynthia A. Gentry, Ph.D. 1. Describe briefly your qualifications for holding the office of Memphis School board member. (Please answer in the space below, but you may also attach a resume or other description to provide us with additional detail.) Condensed Resume Cynthia A. Gentry, Ph.D October Rose Drive Memphis, Tennessee (901) EDUCATION University of Mississippi Ph.D. Educational Leadership and Organizational Management University of Memphis M.Ed. Educational Administration and Supervision Siena College BA. English/Language Arts, Biology, and Secondary Education Cambridge College Academic Coordinator Crichton College Director: Minority Teacher Education Program Assistant Professor of Education Holly Springs School District Superintendent of Education CAREER Crichton College EXPERIENCE Assistant Professor: School of Education and Behavioral Studies Memphis City Schools Interim Principal Klondike Elementary School Memphis City Schools Retired 2002 Shelby County Head Start, Inc. Executive Director Memphis City Schools Principal Havenview Middle School/Cluster Leader Assistant Principal Lincoln Junior High Westwood High School Teacher AP English OTHER CAREER Adjunct Professor University of Phoenix Area Chair of Initial Class Studies Adjunct Professor Crichton College Adjunct Professor LeMoyne Owen College

2 Adjunct Professor Southwest Tennessee Community College Consultant and Professional Development Specialist Afterschool Training Institute Desoto County Schools Memphis City Schools Mid-south area churches SACS Facilitator Mentorship and evaluation of non-tenured teacher CERTIFICATIONS Administrative PREK-12 Professional Administrator Total Quality Management Tennessee Instructional Model Mediation and Conflict Resolution Assessor Training NASSP Selection & Development of the 21 st Century Principal Site-Based Leadership Model Licensed Real Estate Affiliate Broker HONORS & West Tennessee Middle School Principal of the Year 2002 AWARDS Beacon of Light Award 2002 Exemplary Principal and Exemplary Schools Award, Governor of TN. and State Board of Education Nominated American Heroes in Education, Reader s Digest The Honorable Richard Riley U.S. Commissioner of Education Visited Havenview Invited to serve on The International Round Table for Literacy Development In Early Childhood in London, England TCAP Test Preparation Strategies Presentation for MCS Principals Asked to design and coordinate two summer middle school Enrichment programs for the entire Memphis City Schools Recipient of numerous grants K-Swiss Stay in School Video where every person in the school received a pair of K-Swiss tennis shoes Video was aired on Vh-1 channel COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT It s Time To Read Coalition Executive Board League of Women Voters NAACP Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Membership in The Rotary Club Keynote Speaker at Rust College For American Education Week Marshall County Strategic Planning Committee RELIGIOUS COMMITMENT Officer and active member of Greenwood C.M.E. Church Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 2

3 PROFESSIONAL Memphis & Shelby County Retired Teachers Association ORGANIZATIONS Tennessee Education Association National Education Association International Reading Association Tennessee Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education Tennessee Professors of Middle Level Education Association of Curriculum and Development PROFESSIONAL Closing the Achievement Gap MDE 2005 DEVELOPMENT Training for new Superintendents by MASS 2005 Mass Winter Conference 2006 Budget Preparation Training by MASS 2006 Encouraging Faculty to Collaborate Across Disciplines Developing Your Own Tools and Strategies to Assess Student Learning ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS SUPERINTENDENT Implemented a district-wide literacy program which included: School-wide book of the month read by each student Balanced reading and writing program Employed a literacy specialist for the district Secured over $30, in donations to provide classroom libraries Author Yvonne Thornton, M.D. gave a special recognition to selected students Each student received a gift of a book for Christmas from the Superintendent District-wide school reform initiatives included: Added a GED program for overage students in the 7 th and 8 th grades Added math coaches for the 7 th and 8 th grade math classes Revitalized a grant from the National Best Friends and Best Men Program Developed a monthly district-wide newsletter from the superintendent s office Developed a partnership with the Rust College, the University of Mississippi, And Americorps Rust College Professors taught the higher level math classes when the district could not find a teacher Rust College students participated in service learning opportunities assisting with reading and math Rust College partnership made 11 positions available through the workforce initiative program Initiated the dialogue to implement a summer school program with teachers who were students from The University of Mississippi Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 3

4 Developed a partnership with Americorps to place 6 assistants in the high school Parental and Community Involvement Coordinated a Parent Information Seminar for the district where over 350 parents Attended Coordinated a community awareness forum Education is Everybody s Business Designed a mentorship program for the district U.N.I.T.E. Secured community and business partnerships for each school People Involved in Education (PIE) Used phone master to send a weekly message from the Superintendent to each student ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS ASSISTANT PROFESSOR Crichton College Designed and coordinated a summer program for the Memphis City Schools Highly Qualified initiative for middle schools in reading/language arts Designed two literacy reading and writing courses to enhance the Teacher Education Program for all grade level licensure Developed and coordinated PRAXIS I Workshops for students Assisted/served of selection and interview committees for new faculty ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS AREA CHAIR FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX AT MEMPHIS Assisted with opening of the campus in Memphis Interviewed, mentored and evaluated prospective/new faculty Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 4

5 2. In your opinion, what are the three greatest issues (challenges or opportunities) facing the Memphis City School System in the next four years; and what policy changes, if any, would you recommend in dealing with these issues? The greatest issues facing Memphis are being able to hire highly qualified teachers who are fully licensed, safety and discipline issues, and budgetary issues with funding being in jeopardy. I feel the district needs to partner with local institutions of Higher ED to grow our own. There is money for programs like this and the district needs to utilize to send support staff to school to become highly qualified. The Blue Ribbon plan needs to be eliminated, and we need to work with our students to become self-regulated and self disciplined. This can be achieved. I believe in corporal punishment for grades K-8, and other disciplinary measures for Students should not be suspended unless they violate the Zero Tolerance Policy. There should be a second chance program with appropriate counseling for students and their parents/guardians. The city and the county and the Board must work together to resolve the funding issues. The board must establish some priorities and eliminate the fluff. All funding decisions should have the focus on teaching and learning as their main priority. Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 5

6 3. Was a Board member, what policies would you support to address the issues of school safety and violence prevention? Parents/guardians need to be more involved. Most often that is not the case. However, there are counselors in every school. All students should be trained in conflict resolution, problem solving, and getting along with each other, and the emphasis on character development and education. There should be clear expectations articulated across the district that only socially acceptable behavior will be tolerated. Students should be held accountable for their behavior and taught the meaning of responsibility. I would involve more community support such as the faith community, Scouting programs, and Boys and Girls Clubs in each school. Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 6

7 4. Define the role of the School Board in leading the Memphis City School System, and what is that role in relationship to the role of the Superintendent? The role of the Board is to set policy and to make sure it is enforced. It is to provide directions to the Superintendent as to what the community needs and wants. To make certain the Superintendent is on and in compliance with local, state, and federal mandates in another area of accountability that the Board must monitor. Further, the Board should hold the Superintendent and is staff accountable for all areas in the district. The buck stops with him at his desk. Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 7

8 5. Are there opportunities that could be pursued for collaboration between the Memphis City School System and the Shelby County School System? If so, what are they? Yes, I think there are opportunities. We have a duplication of services which could be streamlined. Food service is one major component, personnel services, and procurement services. Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 8

9 6. An educated workforce is one of the key factors that companies consider when evaluating a city for a new operation. What measures should the Memphis City Schools address in order to prepare its high school graduates for the workforce and/or college? Memphis City Schools should consider that the workforce is knowledge based in an information age. Our students should be trained in the skills that will make them able to compete in a global society. The board should look at what is happening across the international scope of all educational institutions and replicate best practices that are working. Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 9

10 7. Merit pay for teachers is a major topic of discussion nationally. What are your views on differentiating pay for teachers? Merit is being implemented in a small way now with the EPIC program. If your performance is outstanding, then you should be rewarded. Business uses this practice, and I know it will make teachers feel respected and valued. It may and most likely motivate those who have lost their intrinsic motivation. Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 10

11 8. What initiatives do you propose to establish positive, cooperative communication with the funding bodies regarding school funding? I propose one initiative and that is open and honest respectful communication. Education is everybody s business. Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 11

12 9. Optional schools have the very positive reputation for high quality education. How do we ensure the same educational standard for all students? Every school should be considered optional and provided with the same resources. Because there is very little equity in Memphis City Schools across the district, we will always have this achievement gap and digital divide between ethnic groups and those who live in high poverty areas. Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 12

13 Coalition for a Better Memphis Page 13

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