MOUNDSVILLE - As he sat through the last in a series of interviews last month, Michael Hince said he could feel the back of his shirt begin to soak with sweat. The end of what he called a "marathon" interview process for the Marshall County Schools superintendent position was near, with only questions from the Marshall County Board of Education remaining.
Hince's answers to those questions - as well as to questions from teachers' organizations, personnel groups and community leaders - helped him gain the position, which he will take beginning July 1. During a meeting last week, board members said it was Hince's strong background in curriculum and knowledge of the needs of students and teachers inside the classroom that earned him the job.
"We are moving from the construction administration that has been the dominant force for the last couple of years to now focusing on the instruction administration," board member John Miller said. "We worked to build the walls, now it's time to focus on what goes on inside those walls."
With 34 years of teaching experience, all in Marshall County, Hince said he feels confident in his abilities to focus on curriculum and adapting to challenges facing teachers and students. He cited his interest in technology, an ever-changing area, as one of his strong suits.
"I've seen the top and the beginning," Hince said of his teaching experience, which included working at John Marshall High School and Washington Lands Elementary School. "I feel pretty good about my abilities with the instruction aspect of the job. There is a lot to build on, but this is also time to look at where you can make improvements."
While his curriculum expertise got him the job, Hince said he will need the assistance of the board, as well as retiring Superintendent Fred Renzella and Assistant Superintendent Wayne Simms, to understand the intricacies of construction and the remaining projects in the district.
"I'm hoping they will make sure I'm up to speed and understand what we're working on now," he said. "They can give me some pointers on where to put your foot and where not to put your foot so you don't hit the land mine."
One of the largest remaining construction projects is at John Marshall High School, where Hince spent 21 years as a teacher and five years as an assistant principal. Board President Roger Lewicki said the renovation project, which will cost $16 million with $7 million coming from state School Building Authority funds, will require input from teachers, personnel and other groups to ensure it meets the needs of students.
As he transitions from principal at Washington Lands into the superintendent position, Hince also will face the task of choosing an assistant superintendent, as well as several other positions that will open this summer as a result of retirements. Lewicki said the board was confident Hince was the right person to make decisions regarding those personnel.
"This is a great opportunity, and we think (he) can form a great team and take us in the direction that is most important to our students in Marshall County," Lewicki said.
Hince said while the task is "daunting" and "humbling," he is honored to assemble a staff that fits those needs and will take care during the selection process.
In the meantime, Lewicki said the board plans to sit down with Hince to get an even better understanding of what his goals are.
"We want to hear your philosophy more in depth and get down to the nuts and bolts, see where we need to go and what direction we need to take," he told Hince.