Honesty, transparency and doing what's best for students were the main campaign platforms for Robert Shaner and Paul DeAngelis - both of whom are candidates to be the next Huron Valley Schools Superintendent.
The board of education conducted two of the four scheduled interviews Monday during a special meeting. Each interview lasted 90 minutes. The candidates answered more than 25 questions from board members, and at least three questions from the audience in attendance.
Interviews will continue Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Lakeland High School. The final two candidates to be interviewed are current interim superintendent Jim Baker and Cindy Weber.
'I've lived a life dedicated to learning'
Robert Shaner was the first candidate to be interviewed on Monday.
Shaner is currently the Executive Director of Instruction and Technology for the Warren Consolidated School District, and has been since 2011. Shaner, who has a PHD, was also a high school principal for the Warren Consolidated School District.
But Shaner said it's his life experience that makes him the most qualified for the position.
Shaner, a Marine Corps veteran, served in Somalia and the Persian Gulf. Following his stint in the military, he had planned to go back to teaching but said the economy led him on a different path.
Shaner spent six years as a police officer but said no matter what career path he took, it always led back to education. As an officer he led the D.A.R.E. division for the local school district. Following his police career he returned to teaching and worked his way up.
"My life has been dedicated to learning," Shaner said. "Because of my varied career, I'm able to see things from different perspectives."
Shaner said one of the challenges facing the district, aside from the financial struggles, is pulling together the community, the teachers and the students as the district tries to navigate through the changing world of education reform.
"I think the challenge is unity, how can we come together as a community and build something that's better for our kids," he said.
For Shaner, he said his leadership skills from the Marine Corps will come in handy.
"I think leadership is about integrity, first and foremost. We are going to have to make some tough decisions and I want people to know that I will take the time to really listen to them and do what's right."
In addition to integrity, Shaner said he wants to inspire the community, the teachers and administrators to make a difference - to make the decisions that will have the best outcome for the district's students. Shaner said he will do this by being honest and transparent with the community, showing them how and why a certain decision has to be made.
"You maintain these strong relationships by having good communication and a solid common vision that's focused on the kids," Shaner said.
'It's about being visible, building relationships'
Paul DeAngelis was interviewed second Monday night and emphasized building strong relationships with the community and teachers to improve learning for students in Huron Valley Schools.
DeAngelis is currently the Deputy Superintendent at Birmingham Public Schools. He previously served as the Director of Community Education at Huron Valley Schools until 2006 and was a principal at Milford High School before that.
"I want to build a positive culture in the district," DeAngelis said. "We need to make sure that we are paying attention to the well being, character and education of our students."
For DeAngelis, the challenges facing the district are the well being of students, student achieve and managing the districts resources.
"Those have been the district's challenges for awhile. I think the district is doing great things to address these challenges, but if you look at the results, we still have a long way to go," he said.
DeAngelis said he would focus on building strong relationships throughout the district to help address some of the needs in the community.
"That's one of the things I am really good at," he said. "It's about being visible - about being an active member in the community and participating in things outside of school events."
Reaching out to the community beyond just the parents of students in the district is one of DeAngelis's goals.
"We need to be able to communicate why we are making decisions, and be transparent in our thinking. People have to know they have a voice. Leadership starts with trust - it's something you have to earn and I understand that. Every time I talk with someone I am trying to build that trust - build that relationship," he said.