ZACHARY — The Zachary Community School Board began interviewing semifinalists for the open superintendent’s position Tuesday, hearing from two employees of the state’s top-rated district.
Board members questioned Patrick Jenkins and Scott Devillier before adjourning.
Interviews are scheduled to continue Wednesday with appearances by former Zachary Curriculum and Accountability Director Michelle Clayton; Superintendent Alonzo Luce, of St. James Parish; and Superintendent Phillip Burchfield, of Clinton, Miss., public schools in Hinds County.
The successful candidate will succeed Warren Drake, who left Sept. 4 to begin a regional job with the state Education Department.
Jenkins is principal of Zachary’s Port Hudson Career Academy, a school for students who are behind in their studies and in danger of dropping out. The campus also has an alternative school for students with disciplinary problems.
Since the Zachary district split from the East Baton Rouge Parish system in 2003, Jenkins has been assistant principal of Northwestern Middle School, and principal of Northwestern Elementary, Zachary Elementary and the Port Hudson school.
His service in the district was twice interrupted by his Army National Guard deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Devillier has been a public and parochial teacher, coach and assistant principal outside of Zachary, and an assistant principal, high school principal and supervisor of attendance and welfare in Zachary.
He is the district’s director of operations, responsible for maintenance, food service, school and home relations, athletics and transportation. He also has been deeply involved in the district’s continuing construction program.
Jenkins said he wants to be Zachary’s superintendent because he believes he can make a great impact on students.
He said Drake built “a tremendous foundation on which we are reaping the benefits.” Jenkins said he has leadership, academic and communications skills to meet Zachary’s challenge of competing beyond the local or state level.
“I believe, over the last nine years, I’ve been dedicated and loyal to this school district. I’ve built relationships with the staff, School Board members and the community, and I want to be here for the remainder of my career,” Devillier said.
Devillier said that, after working with the school system’s team for nine years, “I feel I’m ready to step up and take the lead.”
More than a dozen community members are observing the interviews and giving their written impressions to board members of how the candidates respond to each of the questions.
The candidates also are asked to write an essay on an undisclosed topic after their interviews conclude.
The board has canceled its regular meeting on Thursday, but will hold a special meeting on Oct. 4 to narrow the list to two finalists.