RCAPS board of education interviews three superintendent candidates Wednesday, three more will be interviewed today

REED CITY — After putting faces with the names of three superintendent candidates on Wednesday, the Reed City Area Public Schools board of education will interview another three candidates today. Once the first round of interviews is completed, board members will choose the top two finalists to return for second interviews on Friday evening. The board plans to propose a contract to the new superintendent at its regular meeting on June 17. Interviews, which are open to the public, begin at 4 p.m. today at the Central Office Building. Ryle Kiser, superintendent of Peck Community Schools; Catherine Cost, assistant superintendent of Farmington Public Schools; and Tim Webster, principal of Reed City Middle School, started off the interviews on Wednesday. "It's one thing to meet people one paper and another thing to meet them in person," said Dan Boyer, RCAPS board president. "People become three-dimensional when they talk about their personal experiences." Candidates had the chance to show their personalities and educational philosophies as they answered 15 questions from board members. Kiser, who has been superintendent, high school principal and curriculum director of Peck Community Schools since 2010, said his greatest accomplishment at the district was to improve student performance — taking the high school from being ranked last in the county to being ranked fifth out of eight schools in three years. "The fact that our scores continue to go up and consistently have gone up in the past three years, to me is huge," Kiser said, describing the process he used of reviewing test data to identify areas of weakness, breakdown those topics into specific concepts and implement strategies to improve teaching methods and student learning. Prior to his time at Peck — a district in the Thumb area of the state that enrolls 463 students compared to RCAPS' 1,553 — Kiser spent 23 years in various administrative roles. Originally from Washington, he has a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in administration, both from Eastern Washington University. He is working to complete a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Central Michigan University. Describing his leadership style as a team approach combined with "brutal honesty," Kiser said he considers all angles in a situation when making a decision. "I think I would be a good fit (as superintendent)," he said. "I like your goals and where you're looking to go."
RCAPS superintendent interviews, part 2 The second half of the top six candidates in Reed City Area Public Schools' search for a superintendent will be interviewed today at the Central Office Building. The schedule is as follows:
  • 4 p.m. — Anthony Habra, superintendent of Rudyard Area Schools;
  • 5:45 p.m. — Mandy Stewart, a high school principal for Lincoln Consolidated Schools; and
  • 7:30 p.m. — Ronald Stoneman, superintendent of Redford Union Schools superintendent.
Three candidates also were interviewed on Wednesday: Ryle Kiser, superintendent of Peck Community Schools; Catherine Cost, assistant superintendent of Farmington Public Schools; and Tim Webster, principal of Reed City Middle School. RCAPS began its superintendent search in April after current superintendent Steve Westhoff submitted his retirement after nine years in the position.
Cost was the next to take on the board's questions, bringing to the table seven years of experience as assistant superintendent at Farmington Public Schools, a district of 11,313 students located in a Detroit suburb. She also has 10 years of experience in different principal positions. "No matter what (students) are going to do once they leave the doors of Reed City, how do we prepare them?" Cost said in response to a question on challenges she anticipates the district will face. She went on to note the importance of high standards and ensuring students have an in-depth understanding of material. "The world is a different place right now. The children in our classrooms now are going to be interacting in a global market. ... No longer are we asking students to regurgitate information or memorize for a test. We're asking them to synthesize, elaborate and create. Our education system has to look more like what's going to be asked of them out there." Cost has a bachelor's degree in math and secondary education from the University of Michigan, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Oakland University and a doctoral degree in educational administration from Wayne State University. "I have thought long and hard if this is the right step in my career," Cost said. "My drive to do this is because I want to make a greater difference." Tim Webster, noting his "home court advantage" in having experience at the district, rounded out Wednesday's interviews. Webster has been principal of RCMS since 1997, following two years as principal at Walkerville Community Schools and time as a teacher in Baldwin. One of Webster's priorities would be to improve morale within the school district and improve the district's relationship with the community, which he said can be accomplished through a trickle down affect from teachers to students to parents. "You build a great school by having a great staff. You build a great staff by treating people right, letting them come in and be a part of the vision," Webster said. "The most important way to get our image back in this district is we need to treat our teachers right and create a great working environment." Webster has a bachelors's degree in industrial education and a master's degree in education administration, both from CMU. He described his leadership style as a team approach, noting that one of his strengths is identifying the strengths of others and allowing them to use their talents and leadership. "I like to work with people," he said. "I also am not afraid to make a top-down decision when I need to. I get a lot of input from people and use their input to make my decision. If we're all working as a team, I don't see how there's any weakness in that." Today's interviews will begin at 4 p.m. with Anthony Habra, superintendent of Rudyard Area Schools; then Mandy Stewart, a high school principal for Lincoln Consolidated Schools, at 5:45 p.m.; followed by Ronald Stoneman, superintendent of Redford Union Schools superintendent, at 7:30 p.m. After the last interview, the board will meet in open session to debate the merits and weaknesses of each candidate before naming two finalists. Look for the Pioneer's continued coverage of the RCAPS superintendent interviews this week.