I interviewed Dr. Morrison on Friday, July 6th, just a few days after his July 2nd start date. This was my first individual, in-person interview with the new superintendent of CMS. I had talked with Dr. Morrison in a group interview and on the phone several times prior to his start date. On May 25th, Dr. Morrison announced his entry plan and I asked several questions based on this plan. Here is a link to this plan:
I ask Morrison about his first goal: “To focus organizational efforts to align resources for all students to ensure students are college or career ready and achievement gaps are closed”. Morrison’s first goals are to assess CMS based on this new entry plan. For example, is CMS teaching the way to the top? Morrison feels that he brings a fresh set of eyes to the process. He is more than ready to talk to the people of the community and get their perspective of CMS. Morrison will do an audit of CMS and is in the process of hiring 5-6 new staff for CMS. Morrison wants to talk to top staff at CMS and ask details of how the CMS processes should work. He speculates that 80% of the details that he will hear will be correct but 20% of the details will differ between CMS executive staff.
Morrison would like to create a Visio Process Map for all CMS processes. Morrison would also like to see more transparency in CMS. Because of the need for transparency, Morrison feels that CMS will need to be in continuous change in order to meet this goal.
Morrison was the superintendent in Reno, Nevada with Washoe County Schools when deep budget cuts occurred. Morrison was convinced that Nevada had waste and he looked at what could be cut. The Nevada Tax Payers Association Award was given to Washoe County Schools while Morrison was superintendent. This is unusual because Nevada is a libertarian state.
Morrison was also ready to visit CMS schools. He has already visited several schools that are in the middle of summer school. He visited the freedom school, a magnet school and read to the Y-Readers at one of the YMCA’s. Morrison has also spoken about specific needs and would like additional time to meet with the Y-Readers. He visited a summer science program where the students were learning biology and were dissecting bugs. Morrison feels that the CMS processes need to be tailored to meet the needs of all the students.
Morrison also spoke about principals and other staff making sure that when they talk to the public that they speak a common language. CMS staff tend to use many acronyms and ‘CMS Speak’. If a parent asks a principal to give a brief synopses of a prior school year, the principal should avoid acronyms and ‘CMS Speak’. If staff speak a common language, parents are clear about what good happened at the school. This can avoid miscommunication and ill feelings about how the school did as a whole. All CMS staff need to use a common language to improve the public’s perception of CMS.
Overall, my take on Dr. Morrison is good. I have not made any final judgements on his ability to lead. He has only been the superintendent for a few weeks. I look forward to finding out how CMS will change under this new leadership. Please look for more interviews with Dr. Morrison in the coming months.