Supt. Finalist: Devin D. Embray
April 29, 2009
Devin D. Embray
Family: Married to Angie for 16 years; four children: Sydney, 14, Jacy, 11, Nicholas, 9, Kelly, 6. All kids are actively involved in co-curricular and extra curricular opportunities through school and parks and recreation.
Current position: Superintendent at Independence Community School District.
Describe your education and professional background:
Phoenix Institute of Technology - Certified Draftsman
Central College - B.A. Elementary Education
Drake University - M.S.E. Education
Graduated from UNI with Advanced Studies Certificate-Superintendency.
Teaching experience: One year as a sixth-grade instructor, Montezuma; four years as a sixth grade instructor at Knoxville.
Coaching experience: Montezuma - assistant varsity football, head junior high wrestling, assistant varsity wrestling, head boys/girls golf. Knoxville - 8th grade football, head varsity wrestling. Independence - assistant football, freshman/sophomores.
Administrative experience: Two years as assistant middle school principal at Fort Dodge Community Schools; three years as middle school principal at West Delaware County Community Schools; two years as assistant superintendent/curriculum director at West Delaware County Community Schools; six years as superintendent at Independence Community School District.
What interested you in the Mount Vernon position? Include any knowledge of or connection to the school district. What do you know about the Mount Vernon district and how does that fit your background? I have long been interested in Mount Vernon; actually, I applied here seven years ago when the position was open. I am so impressed with the Mount Vernon community; specifically, how very engaged in the district the community is. It is clear that people from all levels and backgrounds want excellence. It seems to strike a chord with me - this is the reason why I got into education and particularly the superintendency: to promote excellence.
How do you define the role of superintendent? I enjoy the superintendency position because it is challenging, and it is an important job. However, I want to approach it with a servant's heart; I am here to serve students and all of the district's stakeholders. Therefore, my mentality is that there is really no task that can be deemed "below" the position. It can fast become a lonely place if one does not actively engage others, so I make that a top priority. I will engage with the community on a variety of levels. Being involved in service groups and volunteer opportunities keeps me in touch with a variety of people, and gives opportunities for discussion and feedback that is very valuable in getting results within the school system. For example, I am involved as a volunteer coach in the park and recreation program, a member of the Rotary Community Service group, and a local coffee group, to name a few. The wide variety of relationships and feedback these groups offer is invaluable. Having four school-aged children also keeps our family involved with many co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and we look forward to finding a new church family in the area, if I were to be selected as the new superintendent in Mount Vernon.
How will you communicate with all stakeholders and interact with the entire community? Please provide examples: I engage with staff within the parameters of what is best for students. Respecting the staff's knowledge and expertise is crucially important; reflective discussion, many times, can be key to moving forward, and I desire to facilitate that.
Describe your leadership style when it comes to leading a staff. Tell us about your experiences with developing and/or leading professional development and any other thoughts you have on the subject: The superintendent position requires facilitation of processes and structures to ensure quality. Parents should feel confident about what their children are experiencing in school. Professional development is a crucial piece of the improvement cycle. In my current district, we focus on learning teams and building goals, and provide direct PD that will challenge and engage staff to reflect on practices that will help them to reach every student. Staff need to be able to engage in PD which results in informing their instruction. In other words, it needs to be focused and usable. Guest speakers with no follow through can be a waste of everyone's time.
How would you continue a focus on excellence in academics, arts and athletics? Please provide examples: I am a committed leader who will make excellence a priority in all conversations. As the adage goes, "Good people with good information will most often make good decisions"; making sure there is balance in these three areas is key. In my current district, we have focused on keeping all three intact. Sometimes it takes creativity to make it happen, but it is the reflection of staff wanting the best.
What is your educational vision? My vision is simply to be the best we can be, so that others will ask, "How do they do it in Mount Vernon? What do they have that we don't? We need to be like them!" Even more so, I would hope that prospective parents would say, "I want my children to grow up in this district!"