Category Archives: Education

Birmingham gets a second chance to meet new Schools chief “Dr. G” Tuesday evening

DrGHeadshotIf you’re a Birmingham resident who missed out on the chance to meet new City Schools superintendent Dr. Kelley Castlin-Gacutan back in May, don’t worry. There’s another opportunity to meet “Dr. G.” beginning at 5:30 p.m. today (Tuesday, June 16) at the Birmingham Museum of Art. The two-hour meet and greet will also be a chance for those in attendance to hear prepared remarks from the new schools leader. Her selection was announced two days before the last public event, and the terms of her contract were recently approved (5-4) during a called meeting of the system’s board.

It will also be the first opportunity for Dr. G. to offer her thoughts on the school system’s official release from nearly three years of state oversight.

The Hueytown native has more than 24 years of professional experience, including recently serving as the deputy superintendent of school operations and interim superintendent of Macon, Georgia’s Bibb County School District. Castlin-Gacutan is scheduled to begin work here in Birmingham on July 1. She sat down for several interviews shortly after the announcement of her appointment, including this one with WBHM’s Sherrel Stewart and this one with AMG’s Madison Underwood.

Photo: via Birmingham City Schools website.

Birmingham City Schools wants your help in their upcoming superintendent search

bcs-district-logoThe Birmingham Board of Education (BBOE) is trying to collect as much community input as possible as it begins its search for a new superintendent. (Current Birmingham City Schools superintendent Craig Witherspoon announced his resignation — effective at the end of the calendar year — in October). Election Day saw pieces published by both and Weld for Birmingham about how the BBOE intended to accomplish this via public meetings at six area high schools and an anonymous online survey (open until November 16).

It’s now been followed up with a guest opinion by BBOE president Randall Woodfin published to late Friday morning.

The effort is a partnership between BBOE and the Alabama Association of School Boards. Clicking on the name of one of the six district high schools that follows will take you to a PDF showing the current full schedule of meeting times and where they will take place on campus.

Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014
Woodlawn High School
Huffman High School
Jackson-Olin High School

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014
Wenonah High School
Parker High School (for Parker and Ramsay)
Carver High School

The schedules currently call for two times  being set for parents and interested members of the community to stop by and participate: a morning session from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.; and an evening session from 6 – 7 p.m. The schedules also include times to get feedback from members of student council as well as certified and support staff for the schools. The flyers do state that the meetings are for those high schools as well as “the elementary and middle schools which feed it.”

School Board 101 in session beginning March 23

school_board_eventMarch 23 sees the start of an educational series for adults, one aiming to “highlight the importance of school boards in our community and in their role in establishing education policy that affect our children.” According to the press release sent out by the BBA earlier this month, School Board 101: Putting Students First, presented by both the Birmingham Business Alliance and the Birmingham Education Foundation, will take place on four Saturdays between now and May 18 in the auditorium at Vulcan Park, with registration required for all sessions.

Considering we’re about to see those planning to vie for the school board seats begin to announce their intentions, the series seems quite timely. The educational sessions are not just for them though, as pointed out by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham on their website. The series lends itself to the focus of a piece published on Good Magazine’s website last week, one suggesting to be the change you want to see in the system.

It is not the only movement underway to help make the issue of education in metro Birmingham better. Breakthrough Collaborative recently shared a PDF describing the Birmingham site director position now available. The incumbent would begin this summer. The affiliate would be the latest addition to a collective currently operating 27 programs in 25 cities across the United States and in Hong Kong.

Witherspoon to share state of city schools, tax increase proposal

Craig Witherspoon speaking at TechFridayBirmingham City Schools superintendent Craig Witherspoon‘s been answering a lot of questions about the current state of the school system in recent weeks.

This photo was taken on Friday morning, May 11, during his remarks at the monthly TechFriday event at Innovation Depot downtown. Earlier in the week he’d appeared with Mayor William Bell at the first of three community meetings where he’s updating parents and concerned citizens about the state of the school system and plans for its future. It’s also been an opportunity for him to explain his proposal for raising property taxes in the city by 3 mills (generating approximately $9 million/year).

Witherspoon will be holding two more of those informational meetings this week. Monday evening, May 14, will take place at the Davis Center, 417 29th St. S. (between Pepper Place and the Lakeview commercial district). Tuesday evening, May 15, will take place at the Don Hawkins Recreation Center, 8920 Roebuck Blvd. with Mayor Bell once again participating and talking about his bond proposal. Both meetings start at 6 p.m.

Gen. Charles Krulak named new BSC president

Gen. Charles Krulak. Courtesy of Birmingham-Southern CollegeThe board of trustees at Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) unanimously approved the selection of Gen. Charles “Chuck” A. Krulak as its thirteen president earlier this morning. According to BSC he will assume the duties of president effective June 1 though he will be available as his schedule allows before then.

A press conference called for 12 p.m. Monday afternoon and was live streamed. was scheduled to be live streamed and can be viewed via the college’s website.

The 69 year old Quantico, VA native has requested that he not receive a salary for the first twelve months of employment. Gen. Krulak served as the 31st commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps; he has also worked as chairman and CEO of MBNA Europe Bank and vice chairman and chief administrative officer for MBNA American Bank, N.A. He currently serves on

Krulak was presented with the National Veterans Award at the 63rd National Veterans Day celebration here in Birmingham last November, giving him his first opportunity to visit the college. The Birmingham News reported on Krulak’s visit to BSC to interview for the position two weeks ago, with Kyle Whitmire posting yesterday that Krulak may be offered the position today on Second Front.

UPDATE: 12:35 p.m.the official BSC press release about the announcement is now available to view on their website.

Photo: Gen. Charles Krulak. Courtesy of BSC

edcamp Birmingham is coming!

edcampbham logo. Courtesy of official websiteThere may be some that believe teachers disappear on weekends and holidays, but many of us know that not to be true (or is that assuming too much?).

It’ll be safe to say that students of metro Birmingham, AL schools will know where to find some of their teachers in mid-April. A couple of educators are working on providing an opportunity for teachers to have access to “free, democratic, participant-driven professional development.” EdCampBham will take place on April 30 at Samford University.

It is currently the only unconference of its type planned for educators in the Southeastern United States. It would certainly not be the first unconference in the city; there’s already an annual BarCamp event.

Registration for edcampbham is already open. There’s also a Twitter account for those of you interested in following the progress that way.

Image: edcampbham logo. Courtesy of official website.

Welcome aboard Witherspoon

Craig WitherspoonCall it an initiation rite. Birmingham’s new school superintendent, Craig Witherspoon, sat quietly through his first school board meeting Tuesday. Mostly, he just watched. He watched as board members Virginia Volker and Emanuel Ford grilled the child nutrition director on a $57,702 bid for sliced meat. Ford requested that the meats be housed in a variety of breads. You know, something other than the standard bun. Spencer Taylor, the child nutrition director, agreed. There would be wraps and flatbreads, he said. Volker had another concern. “Can we go easy on the salami?”

Taylor assured her that the board has historically used turkey salami. Volker’s face lit up, clearly surprised. The item passed.

Recent articles by The Birmingham News have noted that no school district in the state has shelled out as much dough as the Birmingham system–$1.5 million last year–on legal fees. The board retains two law firms, and let’s just say that at the board meetings, attorneys take up substantial real estate near the dais.

Board member April Williams said that while there may be a small army of lawyers in attendance at each meeting, the board pays for only one attorney from one firm each meeting. The board meets twice a month. Tom Stewart, of the firm Waldrep, Stewart & Kendrick, said that his firm, one of the two representing the board, doesn’t attend committee meetings unless asked by the board. Then only the firm that was invited bills the board. As for the new superintendent’s welcome reception last night, where revelers grumbled that the attorneys present were getting paid, Stewart corrected, “We did not get paid.” They attended, he said, because they wanted to.