Hopson Restructures School System Management

By Bill Dries

Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson has eliminated the school system’s set of four regional superintendents and replaced them with three associate superintendents in what he said is a change to move the school system’s central office closer to the daily operation of schools.

“The whole thought was the central office is too far away from schools. We need people to be out in schools every single day supporting teachers, supporting principals,” Hopson said. “We have a much better chance to touch more schools and be in schools.”

The three associate superintendent positions are divided among schools, academics and schools operations.

Hopson told the school board Tuesday, Aug. 26, that he is appointing Cynthia Alexander-Mitchell as associate superintendent of academics and Angela Whitelaw as associate superintendent for schools.

Both have been Instructional Leadership Directors under regional superintendents, working closely with principals as a coach in leadership training.

Before that, both were school principals in the legacy Memphis City Schools system.

Hopson continues to search for a chief academic officer, a position that has been vacant since Roderick Richmond left at the end of June.

When the position is filled, Hopson said the three associate superintendents will report to that person. For now, they will reported directly to him.

“We hit the pause button with Carol Johnson coming in,” Hopson said of the hiring of a new chief academic officer and the former Memphis City Schools superintendent who is advising Hopson. “We put that on hold. We don’t want to rush that.”

The regional superintendents were restored to the Memphis City Schools management chart as one of the first moves of superintendent Kriner Cash in 2008. The positions had been a feature of Memphis City Schools superintendents through Willie Herenton and were abolished after Herenton left the school system to become Memphis Mayor.