Alexandria Colleagues Praise Hutchings’ Skill, Knowledge

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Conversations with colleagues of Shaker’s next superintendent, Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, revealed consistent opinions about his ability to tackle a challenge while remaining likeable.

Gina Miller, president of the Educational Association of Alexandria, said she meets with Hutchings, who is currently director of pre-k through 12-grade initiatives in the Alexandria City Schools, at least every two months. “He stepped into a very challenging situation” when he was hired as director of pre-k through 12th grade initiatives, Miller said, partially due to the district splitting up its two large middle schools into five smaller ones and the “insurmountable amount of programs” the district was implementing.

Miller said that Hutchings was brought in as a middle school specialist. She said that she had many concerns about the middle school reorganization when Hutchings was hired. “I wouldn’t say all those concerns have been taken care of, but it’s definitely better than it was when the schools were split,” Miller said. “He did as good a job as any human being could do under the job description he was given.”

According to Miller, Hutchings is “warm and outwardly caring,” “he genuinely cares about kids,” and is “a good listener.” “I think he’s going to do a good job for you,” Miller said. When asked about Hutchings becoming a superintendent at 35, she said, “If he is highly ambitious, which I did not see evidence of, he didn’t do it at the expense of his colleagues or subordinates.”

Jodie Peters, Alexandria’s IB coordinator, is supervised by Hutchings. “He brings a positive spirit to the team,” and is “definitely well-liked among the staff,” Peters said. She said Hutchings will make a good superintendent because he “is very goal-oriented,” “understands and knows how to address the achievement gap,” and is skilled at delegating. “Whatever is delegated, he fully understands the implementation of so he can also speak on it and know whether in fact it’s being implemented appropriately,” she said.

“I think he’ll be very sound. . .it should also be a very exciting time for Shaker Heights,” Peters said. According to Peters, Hutchings “is always, always professional in every sense of the way” and that being younger than his subordinates has never been a problem.

“I think he’s ambitious,” said Peters, “but the ambition he’s always had has gotten him to the point where he is.” Peters admitted that she thought Hutchings would eventually be U.S. Secretary of Education, a goal he has described as one his dreams.

Keith Jabati, president of the F.C. Hammond Middle School Parent Teacher Association, said he has worked closely with Hutchings in areas such as improving the school’s intramural programs and athletic field. Jabati agreed with Miller, saying that Hutchings was hired in a critical stage. “For the areas of responsibility that he was tasked to handle, he was able to function very well and independently,” Jabati said. He added that Hutchings would make a good superintendent and that his young age is “definitely not a factor” in his leadership ability.

Jabati met with two members the Shaker Heights Board of Education when they visited Alexandria in April. “Some of the issues in Shaker Heights are similar to some of the issues that we are engaged with” in Alexandria, Jabati said. “From that standpoint, he’s an excellent choice for your school district.”

A version of this article appeared in print 8 May 2013, on page 3 of the Shakerite.

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