Henry County High School graduate Shane Paschall was the fifth finalist to be interviewed by the Henry County Board of Education for the vacant director of schools position.
Paschall’s interview was Wednesday morning at the Grove Tower building.
Paschall is principal and athletic director at Bradford High School. He has held that post since 2009.
He lives in Milan, but is originally from Puryear. He has worked in the Bradford Special School District since 2004, where he started working as a teacher, then became assistant principal before moving into his current jobs.
Paschall told the board that a big part of his life is his faith and he is very active in his church as a deacon, leader of men’s ministry, Sunday school teacher and more. He said his biggest strength is that he has been involved with almost every aspect of working in a school system from teaching to coaching and more.
“I’ve been involved just a little bit in everything you can do in school. I’ve been in the classroom, I’ve been a coach, I was attendance supervisor at Bradford when I got there,” said Paschall. “I’ve got a bus license, I still drive a bus from time to time. I’ve been an assistant principal … now a principal. I’m pretty well rounded and working in a small school system like Bradford is a great thing — we work well together. I really feel I have a good knowledge of what goes on in a school system and what it takes to run one.”
Paschall told the board that having an open door policy is important being a superintendent. He said he has always made himself available to his staff and students to come and speak with him. He said having advisory councils for teachers, students and the community have been valuable assets to him and the Bradford district.
“As a director, you have to be visible and be out and active in the community,” he said. “You have to be honest with people and let them know who you are and be personable. And doing that is the key to having good communication with the board, faculty, students, county government and the community.”
Paschall emphasized that being the superintendent not only requires dealing with the schools in your system, but also working closely with the city school system.
“Working in a school system you work with different people in the community, but everyone is united when it comes to what is in the best interest of our kids,” said Paschall. “You have to listen to people and they have to know that you can be trusted. Everybody here is a Henry County Patriot. We have to have a good relationship with the Paris Special School District, because at the end of the day we all end up together.”
He also told the board that in addition to working with others and being open and present in the community, it is also important to keep everyone informed and on the same page heading toward a common goal.
Paschall said one example is a weekly or biweekly newsletter he sends to his school board in Bradford about what’s going on in the schools. He said open work sessions before the monthly board meetings have been an asset in Bradford and it would be just as valuable here. Paschall said the board in Bradford does a walk-through of every school every month to see what the school needs, what changes need to be made and what is working.
CLOSE INVOLVEMENT WITH STUDENTS
Paschall said being involved and showing the students that you care about them is why teachers get into teaching and when students know you care they are more motivated to work hard to surpass your expectations. He said that for the past 70 years, since 1949, Bradford takes a group of seniors on a trip after graduation.
“This year I will be taking 28 students on a two-week trip. We travel to Washington, New York City, … Niagara Falls. For some students it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel and see these places,” said Paschall. “I get a chance to talk to them on the trip. I talk to them about life, what to expect after graduation and about life in general. I always tell them the easiest part of your life is over, now comes the hard work.
“Not every student will go to college, some will go into the military, some will go to a trade school and some will enter the workforce. I tell my students that the most valuable thing they should have when they leave high school is to learn a skill that will make them employable.”
The board asked Paschall about the difference in Bradford High, which has about 200 students, and Henry County, where the school system has more than 3,000 students. Paschall said that as director you have to be able to delegate and work with a team. At Bradford, he has to handle and know about everything that’s going on at the school, because the staff isn’t as large as the one Henry County has.
“There will be a learning curve, but it’s not something I can’t handle. Everything that comes in through that door (at Bradford High) comes through me, which means I work with faculty and staff and I prioritize what needs to be done. You have to be able to delegate,” said Paschall. “As director you hire the best people you can and you let them do their job. At Bradford we set high expectations for our students, just as you do here, and having a family culture, letting students and staff know you love them and care about them matter. In a school system you look at what you can do and we look at what we can’t, but either way we can’t make excuses and we’re in this together.”
Paschall asked the board what types of characteristics they were looking in for their next director. The general response was the director should be consistent, good at communicating with the board, faculty, the county commission and members of the community, and should show great leadership.
“Being from here with roots here, I don’t think anybody would have more pride in having the Henry County School System do well. I’d love to come back and be the leader of the school system,” Paschall said.