Superintendent Candidate 2: Johnnie Thomas

Again, I am using the standing Board Policies; the Superintendent is charged with:

  1. Directing the day-to-day operations of the District’s schools, services, and programs.
  2. Conducting research and recommending plans for the short- and long-range goals, services, and programs of the District.
  3. Evaluating the entire District’s operations, programs, services, and personnel on a regular, scheduled basis.

And again, I am using Dr. Malito as an active roll model, an embodiment of those qualities.

Dr. Johnnie Thomas

Dr. Johnnie Thomas was awarded his doctorate in August of 2010 and has not yet had the opportunity to spread those particular wings; he has worked his way up from being a social worker in 2000, and appears to have worked primarily in School District 365-U (not sure what the “U” means, yet). In fact, he has only been an Assistant Superintendent since July 2009, holding administrative responsibilities over special education and other related student-centric services. The specialization in special education seems to stem from the 4 years he spent as a social worker in the Chicago Public School Systems. I have a lot of respect for that – sounds like an extremely challenging job, especially for one fresh out of college.

Dr. Thomas appears to have a fair amount of administrative experience, even if it is focused primarily (but not limited to) Spec. Ed. I did note that he lists “facilitating a forum for parent feedback and involvement in district programs and events”, which is of course something I personally keyed on. I also note that Dr. Thomas has been involved in workshops, including “Working with Angry and Aggressive Individuals”, which strikes me as an important skill we all need at one point or another.

However, the downside is that I see this candidate as lacking in the experience and proven district leadership that I am looking for in our school district. Dr. Thomas has shown gumption and fortitude as he has risen in his career, but at this stage of the game, I much prefer someone who is not only ready to hit the ground running, but can also take in stride hiring or otherwise reorganizing the Administrative staff.

What the internets say

Not finding much for Johnnie Thomas – at least, not much that I am confident I can attribute to this particular candidate. Part of it is the commonality of “Johnny Thomas”, even in Illinois and the Chicago area. I did find one article that gives praise to Dr. Thomas’s performance and achievements while at Valley View (unfortunately, I cannot read the entire article without registering). I found another small blurb that speaks of his involvement with a cyberbullying class earlier this year.

Follow-up to the NG Q&A

Again, there are aspects of Dr. Thomas’s response that I like. For instance, he recognizes the huge role the community plays in shaping and supporting the Administration, made especially clear during an exceptionally large High School construction project. However, I would hope that if this gentleman were to become our Superintendent the $130Mil price-tag of his former experience would be but a long-gone dream. He acknowledges the role of stakeholders and the huge potential with the University, Parkland, etc, but I am not finding anything I can sink my teeth into. How exactly would he take the bull by the horns?


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