Harper Woods school board selects new superintendent

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published July 7, 2017

 Steven McGhee

Steven McGhee

HARPER WOODS — The Harper Woods Board of Education has named Steven McGhee as the school district’s new superintendent.

The board approved McGhee with a 6-1 vote at a meeting June 26. Board President Regina Williams was the dissenting vote, but said that she fully supports McGhee’s selection as superintendent and thinks he will do well in the job.

“One of the things that stood out from him was his passion to help the kids. His 90-day plan had some interesting concepts and programs.

His enthusiasm and passion won over the board,” said Williams. “I think he will do a  good job, and I’m excited to see what he will have in store for the coming school year.”

McGhee is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has a master’s degree from Wayne State University. He has worked as a teacher, an assistant principal and acting principal at Mackenzie High School; as an assistant principal at Frederick Douglass Academy; and as principal at Osborn Collegiate Academy before becoming the academy’s director of career and technical education.

“There are no words. I have been preparing for this all my life. I’m elated, and I’m ready to get to work,” said McGhee. “I promote academic excellence, and I believe in the utmost accountability. We are going to be excellent in all that we do. There will be no child left behind; I’m not advocating for 99 percent of our children — I’m advocating for 100 percent.”

The Harper Woods school board selected him from a group of three finalists who were interviewed publicly at Harper Woods High School.

“Our expectations for him are to use the vision and the goals of the school district to follow through on his plan to, in the first 90 days, listen to the staff, board and community to ascertain where the district is strong and where it needs improvement, and then to lead the community and the board toward something better,” said Williams. “He was selected largely for his experience and his clarity of vision.”

McGhee described the importance of this 90-day plan he had laid out to the board.

“The first portion of the 90-day plan is a listening tour, which will let me learn quickly and act boldly,” said McGhee. “I want to hear from the board, the community, the teachers, the students — and after that, we can determine the direction we want to go in. We want excellence above all, excellence in policy, core values, procedure, vision, strategy, accountability.”

His plan would expand to specific goals for the district’s schools, all aimed at ensuring students have opportunities after graduating.

“Elementary schools need to focus on academic excellence and connection, connection with each other, with families and with the world around them,” said McGhee. “Middle school students need to build partnerships and build career pathways. High school is all about guiding them to higher education or being able to be trained in a skilled trade.”

Among the changes he wants to make are instituting talent management programs for hiring and maintaining staff, and instituting a curriculum director position.

“I want to hire a curriculum director, and we will see who in the district would be best for that position,” said McGhee. “Having this position in place would mean a deeper connection and focus on academics. The person in the job would ensure all schools and classrooms would be working together for a coordinated academic vision from kindergarten to the 12th grade.”

No set date has been scheduled for McGhee to begin work, and his contract is still being finalized. However, members of the board expressed that everything should progress as planned for McGhee to assume his duties as superintendent prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year.