The Maryville Board of Education has unanimously selected Assistant Director of Schools Mike Winstead to become its next director of schools.

Director of Schools Stephanie Thompson is retiring effective Dec. 31. She’s worked 35 years in public education, serving as a teacher, coach, librarian and system-level administrator.

During Thursday’s called meeting, the board named Winstead to succeed Thompson. He has served as the district’s assistant director since 2008.

“I’m honored to be named Maryville’s next director,” Winstead said. “Maryville is tradition. It’s committed to excellence in academic, athletics and fine arts. The community, parents, teachers and students share this vision. I’m all in, and I look forward to working with the leadership team, teachers and the entire community. We all share a lack of complacency. No one has the mindset that we’ve arrived. We’re always looking to find that next piece of the answer.”

During Winstead’s tenure, educators will continue looking for ways to better serve students. “Maryville has a tradition of continued improvement and innovation. We’re not always the first to do something. We do our research, see what everyone else is doing, and see what is working. When we implement a program, we’re going to make sure that we do it better than everybody else. That’s what our community expects.”

Winstead’s leadership style complements the district’s approach. “I don’t jump to conclusions. I’m very diligent with my decision making. By nature, I’m very data driven, analytical and deliberate.”

For this reason, the administrator is looking forward to Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) testing in 2014-15.

“We’re the best school system in the state, and one of the best in the country. We’re soon going to know for the first time where we actually stack up. I’d imagine that we’ll look very good, but we’re going to see some things that will need improvement. I expect those results will serve as an impetus for future growth. We’re not complacent here, and we’re going to continually work to meet the needs of all students. We’re going to grow them academically, accelerate their growth, and ensure that they’re better prepared graduates — as we’ve done for many years.”

Winstead also wanted to publicly thank Thompson. “It’s been great training, serving under Stephanie. It’s been the most rewarding professional experience of my life. I’ll always be grateful for her guidance and collaborative leadership style. I feel about as prepared as anyone who’s moved into this role. However, I know that there’s still going to be some surprises.”

‘Seamless transition’

Board members are confident that they picked the right leader.

“Maryville has been fortunate to have exceptional directors of schools,” said Doug Jenkins. “Mike Dalton was exceptional, and he mentored Stephanie who has been exceptional. Stephanie has mentored Mike, who I feel will be exceptional, as well.”

“We’ve been watching Mike Winstead for the past six years as our assistant director of schools,” said Vice Chairman Denny Garner. “Mike’s performance has been fabulous. He’s ready to be our director. He’s a strong individual who possesses strong morals and values. He will lead our schools to tremendous results.”

“Dr. Winstead has the education, the experience, the drive and the vision to lead our schools,” said Candy Morgan. “In the five years he has been the assistant director of schools, he has worked hard for our system and has been a great asset to our schools and our community. It is without hesitation that I support him to be our next director of schools. I am excited for the future of Maryville City Schools under the direction of Dr. Mike Winstead.”

“We’re fortunate to have him,” said Chairwoman Christi Sayles. “When you combine his talents and his six years in our system, it’s obvious that he’s ready to immediately step into this job. He knows where we are right now, and he has a vision to make us even better. He will lead a seamless transition for our schools and administrators.”

Sayles also complimented Thompson’s leadership in a time period that could be characterized as “the perfect storm — increased expenses, increased mandates, increased accountability and expectations with decreased funding and government support. We truly appreciate her service, and it’s a blessing to know the system has found another set of steady hands to succeed her.”

“With all of the changes happening in education right now, we couldn’t have anyone better guiding our schools,” said Bethany Hodson Pope.

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