Riding with the Supt: CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston


All right guys, we’re here down at
the government center downtown uptown Charlotte to meet with
the superintendent Ernest Winston. Will change the name of
the show this week from Riding With Recruits to
Riding with the Supt S-U-P-T superintendent Winston’s cousin
Jennifer Hudson is a world-famous singer. She’s American Idol, she’s gonna play Aretha Franklin
in the new Aretha Franklin movie. And he gets this job, it’s been a big
couple of months for his family, he’s been superintendent
here since August. I just wanna get his thoughts on
his new job, his rise to fame and what he hopes to do with the system. And I kinda feel like an athletic
director’s hiring a football coach to kinda stabilize the program. Cuz CMS has been through a bunch of
superintendents in the last decade, but let’s see what Ernest Winston has to say while Ridiing With Recluits. [MUSIC] We got a special guest this
week on Riding With Recruits, we’re gonna change the name but
it’s sure Riding With the Supt.>>[LAUGH]
>>S-U-P-T, superintendant Earnest Winston. Man, I ain’t seen you in a long time.>>It has been a while, Langston,
it’s been too long as a matter of fact.>>It’s been a minute, and you were working with us at The Observer
you leave, you become a teacher. That was 15 years ago,
or something like that?>>Absolutely, into the classroom
advanced 15 years ago, yes sir.>>And then, you wake up one day and
you’re the man, you’re the superintendent. You got 150,000 students and
20,000 employees, I mean, what’s that like to kind of
go from ombudsman to the guy?>>Well, you know certainly
it didn’t happen overnight, having been in the district for 15 years.>>Yeah.
>>Starting off as a classroom teacher, and working my way up through the system,
ultimately Chief of Staff, Chief Engagement Officer, Ombudsman. So I had a little run way to get
acclimated to understand the ins and outs of the district.>>Sure.
>>So while I’m new to this particular role, I have built lots of strong
relationships within the district. I’ve had an opportunity to learn
the ins and outs of the districts, how the system works. I am a parent myself in
the school district, which I->>Two kids, right?>>Two kids, middle schooler and
a elementary schooler, and I tell you that’s probably one of the
biggest training grounds for this work.>>[LAUGH]
>>[LAUGH] But so I don’t come into it completely new,
having been in the community for 17 years. I know Charlotte,
I know Mecklenburg County and so I would say those things lessened my
learning curve into this new role.>>We’ve had a lot of superintendents
in a very short amount of time, and I kinda look at you kinda as the big time
football coach that gonna get to bring in stability. This guy’s gonna stay and build up
a program, are you gonna be that guy? Do you wanna be that guy to be here for long periods of time to kinda get
this ship in the right place?>>Absolutely, I see myself as the person who can
help stabilize things in the district. We’ve had a lot of turnover, as you
alluded to over the last several years, and I think a sense of uneasiness for
staff and families. I think that ultimately plays out
in other ways in the district, including on academic performance
on behaviour engagement efforts. When people were just uneasy and uncertain
about what the path forward looks like. And whether or not someone may be
around just for a short period time or if this will be another, just one
other stop on the ultimate journey. I’m here for the long-term.>>Good.
>>I have no desire to go anywhere else Charlotte is home. It’s the only place my two children
have known and we love this community.>>And you’ve always been a nice guy. In fact, when you got the job, one of the athletic directors in town told
me he knew all the principals in the room. And all the ladies room would
great him by the first name. Can you remain a nice guy in the job
is kind of cutthroat sometimes can you keep that domina?>>I think you can and-
>>And not be run over?>>And not be run over, absolutely. Because I think, if you are very
clear about your expectations and you hold people accountable. And I have said on multiple occasions, I’m always gonna do what’s in
the best interest for all kids.>>Sure.
>>And sometimes that’s gonna be disappointing for some adults.>>Abxsolutely.>>But I have to go home and
lay my head on the pillow at night knowing that I did what was right. And so,
the other piece of what you were sharing, Langston is about the relationships that
I’ve built over the past 15 plus years.>>Right.
>>Is that when you have Have relationships with people, I believe
it is easier to get the work done. Not easy, [LAUGH] but
it’s easier because people feel more comfortable when they’re
in a relationship with you, they feel more comfortable
in doing the work. And again, I have to stress that it
does not mean that you hold people less accountable for the outcomes and
work that we’re responsible for doing. No, that’s not the case, but I certainly
as we talked about in the classroom setting, we want all of our teachers to
have a relationship with every child.>>Sure.
>>And it may look different from school to school classroom to classroom.>>Absolutely.>>But when that relationship is solid, dealing with kid and
I know this from experience, dealing with kid is more inclined
to be more engaged in their work. And I think the same is for adults.>>Yeah, a lot of people are here are
concerned they think CMS is too big and it’s too slow to move, and it feels like this big, humongous,
titanic going down out the sea. I mean, are there ways to make
CMS feel a little smaller? Are there ways to make some
suburban parents a little less unhappy with overcrowding and
sizes of schools?>>Absolutely, and I will say
that a week before the election, a group of us including the board,
chairperson, board Vice Chair, as well as the district representative and
someone from our legal office. We spent a few hours in Cornelius,
meeting with the mayor and some of the town officials,
talking about this very thing. And so, we talked about how
do we make CMS which is 18th largest school
district in the country. How do we make big feel small?>>Right, right.>>And so, we’ve already begun to
tackle some of those things and have those conversations, and one of the ways we do that is through
our learning community offices. And so, we have learning communities
that are responsible for schools across our district. And so, we want to make sure that in this
particular instance is the Northwest learning community that has a relationship
with Cornelius, Davidson and Huntsville. We wanna make sure that the town
officials and the families there, feel like they have a relationship
with those district officials here who are responsible for
their schools. And so they don’t have to come or feel like they have to come-
>>Downtown.>>Downtown to central office
when they have a question or an issue that they need to have resolved.>>Sure.>>So that’s just one of the ways,
and we’ll continue to have those conversations, and
I know that one tomorrow or maybe it’s later today we have
actually a meeting in Davidson.>>And so we’re gonna-
>>You’re gonna take it to all the surrounding areas?>>Absolutely, because it’s important that
people feel like they have a place to go when they wanna be heard. Or they have have a complaint,
just something that needs a resolution, it’s important that they feel
like they have a place to go. And we wanna make sure that’s the place.>>I’m a sports guy.>>Yes sir. [LAUGH]
>>And the coaches feel like they’re
stepchildren, a lot of them. They feel like they don’t like the pay
scale because a 30-year coach makes the same as a first year coach. And when you go to other communities,
there’s a difference in pay scale, they feel like they’re not valued and
their time is valued, is that something you’re aware of? Or are you open to a dialogue with them to
kinda deal with some of their complaints?>>Absolutely,
absolutely I am accustomed and I want to engage with all of our
staff members in the industry. And so that’s important to me
to hear what’s on their mind, what concerns they may have. A couple of weeks ago I spent
the afternoon at a lunch with several of our athletic directors. And so-
>>They work hard, man.>>I know they do, I know they do and
we ask a lot of them.>>Yeah.>>And, it’s only fair that we
be able to compensate them and all of our employees,
because we do ask a lot of them. And we expect a lot out of them,
but that experience gave me an opportunity to just a dialogue with
them to hear what’s on their minds. And it’s something that I plan to do
across the district with all employees. To just listen,
understand where they’re coming from. And because I always say and I believe
that every job in this district is important, there’s no job that’s
more important than the other. We have a lot of focus and emphasis and
we talk about teachers, right? Because that’s who students
come in contact with the most.>>That’s right.>>But every employee in this
district is respected by me, and I understand the value that they bring
to our students in our district. And so certainly, I look forward to
having those dialogues with our coaches, our athletic directors.>>So you’d be willing to
rip it up if it makes sense?>>Well, so I need to get more
information in terms of salary scale and things like that. And I will tell you, I mean, it’s
a conversation that we’re always having. How do we do better by
all of our employees? And as you know we don’t have
a finalized state budget right now.>>Yeah.>>Which makes it difficult-
>>[LAUGH]>>But->>I’d like to see Charlotte be number one and coaches pay them cuz we had
the best athletes in the state. So would like to see that,
so but that’s your job. [LAUGH]
>>Well->>I just get to write about it.>>[LAUGH]
>>Well, it’s something that I’m committed to is making sure that we better
compensate all of our staff members.>>Absolutely.
>>And certainly our coaches
are a part of that mix.>>Absolutely.>>Well,
man we’re back at where we started, I brought you back in one piece so
that you can’t get mad at me.>>[LAUGH]
>>Stay nice->>Thank you sir.>>Stay healthy, stay well
>>Thank you, Mike.>>I appreciate you.
>>I appreciate you. And I’d love to come back, hopefully,
this is not a one and done.>>No-
>>We’ll get another opportunity.>>We’ll do Riding with the Suit Part Two.>>Okay. [BLANK_AUDIO]

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