As Alcoa City Schools begins its search for a new director, staff members put integrity and respect among the top qualities they want in a leader.

This month the school board asked employees to rank 40 qualities on a scale of 1 to 5, and 159 responded.

Someone who “inspires and builds trust and models high standards of integrity and ethics” was ranked highest, just slightly above someone who “builds trust and respect, serves as a role model for staff, students, and the community.”

At the bottom was someone who is an Alcoa graduate or has some other connection with ACS or the community, and that reflects a wide range of opinions on the importance of that factor.

The five rankings on an Alcoa connection each garnered a response from about 16% to 23% of those who completed the survey.

Understanding the history of Alcoa’s schools and community ranked slightly higher, at 38.

During their meeting this month Alcoa Board of Education members decided to share the rankings on the 40 questions with staff, but not write-in responses to questions about the district’s strengths and challenges, as well as other things employees want the board to consider in hiring a new director.

Director Brian Bell is retiring at the end of the school year, and the board has hired consultant Wayne Qualls to lead the search for Bell’s successor. Qualls has said he plans to post the advertisement for the job opening through the end of the calendar year, with the goal of the board interviewing candidates in February or March.

While more than a third of respondents rated experience as a building-level principal as a top consideration with a 5, and nearly 89% ranked it as 3 or above, that quality ranked only 36 out of the 40 items posed in the survey.

Having a doctorate or educational specialist degree ranked 38, followed by successful fundraising experience at 39.

Rounding out the top five were being a good listener and gathering information to make decisions; having a servant-leader attitude; and holding self and others accountable.

The top 10 also included setting high expectations; being willing to make tough decisions; having a positive outlook; leading with a vision, looking to the future and honoring the past; and meeting comfortably with individuals and diverse community groups.

In the written remarks many staff members cited Alcoa’s size and community among its strengths. Growth and funding appear frequently among the challenges.

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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