Shumate finalist for TCSS top job

Published 5:50 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

This is the final story in a series of features on the three finalists for the Troup County School System superintendent position. The features were published in alphabetical order by last name.

Brian T. Shumate is one of three finalists for the Troup County School System’s superintendent position. Shumate currently serves as the superintendent of the Medford School District in Medford, Oregon.

If he was to be named the new superintendent in Troup County, Shumate would be making his second cross-country move in five years. Until 2014, he had lived in Louisville, Kentucky his entire life. Shumate started working in the Jefferson County Public School System in Louisville in 1987 and served in a variety of roles during his time there.

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“I was in Jefferson County 27 years total, seven as a teacher and a coach, seven as an assistant principal, six as a principal, five as a liaison and two as an assistant superintendent,” Shumate said.

In 2014, he was named the superintendent in Medford and decided to make the 2,300-mile move. He said it’s been a rewarding experience, but he’s ready to get back closer to family in Louisville.

“We’ve had a great experience here,” Shumate said. “We have been out on the west coast and people here have been very gracious and good, and we’ve made progress as a district, and we’re really proud. I’m just at that point in my life where I need to get back closer to that part of the world.”

Shumate said during his time at Medford, the district has seen its graduation rate rise 15 percentage points in the last four years. He also said the district has moved ahead of the state average in math, science and English/language arts.

He said the Medford School District reminds him a lot of Troup. According to its website, the district serves 14,000 students, which is just a little above the 12,000 or so students in TCSS.

“I’ve worked in a very large district, and I’ve also been around superintendents of very small districts, and the size of Troup is very attractive,” Shumate said.

“The community support and business support are very important. I didn’t do this lightly. I looked at the quality of life, the area of the country, the values of the people and the interest in public education. The diversity of the district is important. I’ve been around this stuff for 32 years, and there are a lot of things about Troup that really stuck out to me.”

Shumate said he looked carefully at the stakeholder feedback each finalist was provided. The stakeholder feedback provided information from parents, teachers, administrators and other key community groups.

“I read all that very carefully, so I got a flavor of what the issues are,” Shumate said.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, I looked at the Georgia Department of Education website on all the test results, and I think the district is performing below state averages, and we can do better than that.”

Shumate, like the other two finalists, was asked by The LaGrange Daily News specifically about how he would improve literacy scores at TCSS.

“The first thing you have to do is ensure the curriculum that you are teaching is aligning with what’s being tested,” Shumate said. “You’ve got to make sure what you’re teaching is aligned with the state standards for assessment.”

Shumate said it’s also important that the curriculum is aligned across each school.

He said students should be tested several times throughout the year and not just at the end of the semester.

“You have to have assessments you do throughout the year to see if kids are getting better throughout the year or not,” he said. “You don’t wait until the final summative assessment of the spring time to see if your kids are learning.”

Shumate earned a bachelor of arts degree and master’s degree from the University of Louisville. He also earned a doctor of philosophy from the University of Louisville in 2003.

Shumate and his wife Dana have a daughter and son. Shumate’s daughter and son-in-law attended the University of Georgia, so he said he has links to the state.

He said he’s already proven once that he can adjust to moving across the country and believes he can learn quickly about the needs of students in Troup County.

“I have already made that shift. You talk about a culture shift, going from Kentucky to Oregon. I tell people all the time that probably 85 percent of life is the same as far as the schools, the people and community and all that,” Shumate said. “The other 15 percent I had to learn quickly.”

Larry DiChiara and Peggy Aune are the other two finalists for the superintendent position. The finalists were announced Feb. 4. Under Georgia law, the school board must wait at least 14 days after announcing the finalists before selecting the new superintendent.