Fort Smith Public Schools releases names, bios of six finalists for superintendent

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 326 views 

Fort Smith Public Schools are moving closer to filling the superintendent position left vacant by longtime Superintendent Benny Gooden, who announced his retirement in April.

The district released the names of six finalist candidates sourced from Iowa-based Ray and Associates, which opened the application period in late September and closed it on Nov. 3. FSPS Director of Communication and Community Partnerships Zena Featherston Marshall said the firm is reaching out to the candidates to confirm their availabilities for Nov. 28 and Dec. 5 interviews.

Marshall said the Fort Smith School Board would like to interview all six in one day, if possible, but have asked for those two dates to allow for options. Once locked down, the interviews would begin at 8 a.m., with each expected to last for 90 minutes with 30-minute breaks in between. From there, the Board will cull the list down to their final candidates. Tentative follow-up interview dates would be on Dec. 12 or 13.

“We’re still far enough away from that that it isn’t set in stone, but it will likely be mid-December,” Marshall told Talk Business & Politics on Friday (Nov. 18). Marshall also provided application information on the six candidates. Their summary biographies are below. (Link here for a PDF of the resume info provided by the school district.)

THE CANDIDATES
Keith Brown
Brown hails from Overland Park, Kan. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Mid America Nazarene College in Olathe, Kan., before earning a master’s degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce. He has 22 years of administrative experience with 12.5 years as a superintendent. Since June 2008, he has been the superintendent of Bay City ISD in Bay City, Texas. Additional educational experience includes 10 years as the athletic director of Rivercrest ISD in Bogata, Texas.

Doug Brubaker
Brubaker is the associate superintendent of Garland ISD in Garland, Texas. Prior to that, he served for six years as the assistant superintendent of Mansfield ISD in Mansfield, Texas. He began his career in administration in Fort Worth’s Birdville ISD as the assistant principal of North Ridge Elementary School from 1998 to 2000. He has carried a superintendent certification for 10 years, which he earned through the University of Texas Permian Basin after attaining a doctorate from the University of North Texas in 2005. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kansas in 1994.

Brenda Lewis
Lewis is the assistant superintendent of Rochester Public Schools in Minnesota, a position she has held since 2013. Prior to the post, she served for three years as the district’s executive director of elementary and secondary education. Her first job in school administration was as the assistant principal of Faithful Shepherd School in Eagan, Minn. She followed that with three principal positions at St. Joseph Catholic School in Red Wing, Minn. (2005-2007); Murch Elementary School in Washington, D.C. (2007-2009); and Capitol Hill Magnet School in St. Paul, Minn. (2009-2011). Lewis earned a doctorate in philosophy leadership/administration from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minn., in 2009.

Christiana Otuwa
Otuwa is the deputy superintendent of the teaching and learning division in the Rochester City School District, Rochester, N.Y., where she has served since 2014. Prior school administration jobs include one with Atlanta Public Schools in 2000 when she served as a principal. She left that position in 2007 for the assistant superintendent of secondary schools post in Pittsburgh, Pa. She earned her doctorate of education in 1997 from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. Her bachelor’s degree was earned at Texas Tech University in 1985.

David Pennington
Pennington has 22 years of experience as a school superintendent, serving Ponca City Public Schools in Oklahoma since 2004. His initial superintendent post was in 1995 as the head of Blackwell Public Schools in Blackwell, Okla., where he worked until taking the Ponca City job. He earned a doctorate in education from Oklahoma State University in 1999, his masters of education from OSU in 1981, and his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from there in 1977.

Michael Roth
Roth graduated with his doctorate of education in December 2015 from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan. He attained superintendent certification in May 2003 from Fort Hays State University. Roth earned a bachelor’s degree in K-12 physical education from Kansas State University 10 years prior to that. His professional experience includes three superintendent positions, the most recent at Leavenworth School District No. 453 in Leavenworth, Kan., from 2014 to present; a second at Clearwater School District USD No. 264 in Clearwater, Kan., from 2006 to 2014; and a third at Deerfield School District USD No. 216 in Deerfield, Kan., from 2001 to 2006.

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