Brandywine meets with first 2 of 6 top job candidates

Published 9:07 am Tuesday, March 23, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Brandywine Board of Education conducted its first two interviews for the district's superintendent position on Monday.
The interviews included J. Mark Parsons, a superintendent in Boyne Falls, and Michael Dodge, a principal at Heritage High School in Saginaw.
The interviews took place in the Brandywine High School library and were open to the general public. Each interview had an allotted time of 90 minutes and was comprised of about 25 prepared questions from the board, questions from the public, a chance for the candidates to ask questions and a closing statement from the candidate.
The board asked questions to shed light on the candidates' backgrounds, strengths, plans for the future and motivations for wanting to work in the Brandywine school district.
Parsons, who is currently in his fourth year as superintendent in Boyne Falls, has also had teaching stints in both Mexico and Saudi Arabia and has served as an elementary school principal in Berrien Springs for four years.
Boyne Falls is a very small school district in Northern Michigan and is made up of one school building, 24 teachers and 333 students.
Parsons earned his bachelor's degree from Spring Arbor University and has two master's degrees from Central Michigan University.
When asked about his interest in Brandywine, Parsons said it is a professional goal of his to move to a larger district and thinks Brandywine is a great opportunity.
He also said the size of the Brandywine district is attractive and looks forward to moving back to Southwestern Michigan, where he and his family enjoyed living while he worked in Berrien Springs.
Parsons emphasized the importance of having good communication skills and being accessible to the entire community as a superintendent.
Parsons said some of his best attributes are being a hard worker, a good leader and having a commitment to learning.
He feels comfortable with handling the budget process and will always look to the best interest of the students.
The second interview was with Dodge, who has served as the principal of Heritage High School for nearly three years, a large school with almost 1,700 students.
He also has experience as a teacher and an assistant principal and has been involved in schools at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.
Dodge holds a bachelor's degree from University of Michigan-Flint, a master's degree in educational leadership from Saginaw Valley State University and is currently working on a doctorate at Michigan State University.
He said it was a goal of his to become a superintendent and likes Brandywine's size and location.
Dodge thinks it is essential for a good superintendent to have effective communication skills and strong community ties.
With continued budget cuts for schools in Michigan, he said it is important to be creative and have an innovative approach to providing students with a good educational environment.
Dodge described his best personal attributes as being a people person, helping to resolve problems, being honest and having dedication to education.
Like Parsons, Dodge said the students' best interests have to be the driving force behind his decision making.
The interview process of the six final candidates will continue with interviews at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday at the Brandywine High School library.