The Concordia Parish School Board, after multiple interviews of candidates over the past two weeks, chose Toyua Watson, CPSB’s director of secondary education, as the next superintendent for parish schools.
That action came during a special meeting Monday night that lasted more than three hours.
Watson will be the first African American woman to hold the superintendent position.
She said Wednesday that she thanks God for her appointment and that she has been praying throughout the selection process.
Named Teacher of the Year twice at North Bayou Elementary School in Alexandria, and in 2012-13 at D.F. Huddle Elementary New Vision, she said had hoped to be superintendent of parish schools one day but that “it came to be a lot sooner than I expected.”
Watson said she plans to get input from the community and schools to reach her goals for the parish.
“I’m excited to get started,” she said.
She was selected on an 8-1 vote with board member Raymond Riley voting for the other finalist, Dr. Montrell Greene.
Board members Warren Enterkin, Dorothy Parker, Derrick Carson, Fred Butcher (president), John Bostic (vice-president), Angela Hayes, Lisette Forman and Rickey Raven supported Watson.
The board will draw up a contract in the days ahead and will set the starting date for her new job.
Butcher thanked the candidates, administrative staff and board members for their work during the selection process. He congratulated Watson on her appointment and thanked the other candidates for seeking the post, including Greene, who along with Watson was interviewed a second time Monday night.
He also thanked the board’s legal counsel for assisting the board during the process and during the meetings.
According to a process set up before the meeting, each board member was allowed to ask up to three questions. After each candidate was interviewed publicly, the board went into executive session to further discuss the candidate.
Responding to multiple questions from board members, Watson gave an overview of herself and of her professional background.
She said she does not practice favoritism, believed those in the system would support as her as superintendent just as she supports them and that she would implement changes in her new role after careful thought and prayer as well as consultation with others, including board members.
Watson said she has held several roles as an educator, including years as a teacher, and that she understood the pressures on teachers because she experienced it many times. She said she would always be mindful of the needs and pressures on all school employees.
Flexibility and communication with staff, school administrators, students, board members and others within the system is crucial to success, she said.
Watson said some of the meetings held with principals, students, groups and others should be held on the campuses, which she intended to visit often.
She said student athletes must face the reality that to be able to complete in college requires that they compete academically in high school and that she would work to help them.
While some schools may have seen academic decline, she said the best way to correct that problem is to do something new and not repeat the things that have not worked.
Evaluations of her work as superintendent and of teachers, etc., are important, she said, adding that evaluations should be designed “to help all of us grow.”
Watson said she is approachable and personable and felt this would help her succeed as the leader of the parish’s education system.
She said she intended to “challenge minds,” and to lead by example and hard work.
The other finalist, Greene, said he favored a five-day school week, believes in safety and vaccination for Covid-19, thinks the superintendent should be visible, must display leadership, be a motivator, make partnerships and communicate well.
Watson will take the reins of superintendent from longtime parish educator Whest Shirley.