Now that he’s been tapped as Mobile County Public Schools’ next superintendent, Chresal Threadgill says he’s going to spend the next couple of weeks visiting the district’s 88 schools.
Threadgill, who has been the system’s Chief of Staff since September, is going to continue meeting with principals, touring campuses and talking to students.
Mostly, he’s going to listen.
“My ultimate goal is to get out and build relationships,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Mobile County Board of School Commissioners voted unanimously to hire Threadgill to lead Alabama’s largest school system. He was picked over two other candidates who interviewed on Monday to replace Martha Peek, who is retiring at the end of June.
The board will now work with Threadgill on a contract, and he will take office on July 2.
“I am excited, anxious and maybe a little numb,” he said a few minutes after the vote. “I’m going to do what I’ve always done, which is work hard and do what’s best for children.”
A graduate of LeFlore High School, Troy University and Alabama State University, Threadgill has spent all but the last six months of his education career in other school systems. He plans to bring the skills he has learned in Troy City Schools and Elba City Schools to the table as he leads in Mobile County.
“Coming back home, I plan to bring some fresh ideas,” he said.
While superintendent in Elba, Threadgill was able to raise the high school graduation rate by 30 percentage points and put the district – which was threatened with a state takeover – into good financial shape.
At MCPSS, he has been working with the Chief Financial Officer on ways to save the school system money so it can build up its reserve account. He said during his interviews that he wants to work on “equity and equality” and that he wants to find ways to reduce teacher workloads.
“My ultimate goal is going to be to educate people and try to change the perception of Mobile County Public Schools,” he said. “I want to go out and bring other entities to the table and collaborate.”
Peek said she has no doubt that the board selected the right person for the job.
“When you love something like I love Mobile County Public Schools, you want to make sure that you’re leaving it in very good hands,” Peek said.
Threadgill, she said, brings experience as well as dedication to his hometown.
“He also has new ideas, and a new enthusiasm. He will bring his own vision,” Peek said. “Mobile County Public Schools is a great school system. Anybody who comes in who is honored to be superintendent knows his job is to come in as a great caretaker and help it get even better. I think there’s a great future ahead for Mobile County Public Schools.”
Board president Dr. Bill Foster said Threadgill’s track record in past jobs is outstanding.
“Who goes into a school system as superintendent, as he did in Elba, that is under the verge of state takeover and turns that school system into a success?” Foster said, noting that in just four years under Threadgill’s leadership, the graduation rate rose from 63 to 96 percent. “Mr. Threadgill also faced monetary challenges. They were going almost day-to-day. The state superintendent told him, ‘We’re going to fold this system back into the county system, unless changes are made this year.’ He was able to do that.”
Threadgill will be the first African American superintendent of Mobile County Public Schools.
He said during his interview that he has always stood on a platform of what he calls VISA.
“The V is for vision – everyone must know your vision. You must communicate your vision. The I is for integrity – to treat everybody with respect, and treat people like you want to be treated. The S is for structure – to have structures and procedures in place and for everybody to follow those procedures, to know those procedures, and to communicate those procedures. The last one is the most important one and that’s A for accountability – to hold everyone accountable, including myself.”
Threadgill has been married to LaTanya, a science teacher, for 15 years. They have three children: Sydni, a freshman at Baker; Alex, a seventh-grader at Causey; and Coleman, a second-grader at Collier.
He has a bachelor’s degree in education from Troy University and a Master of Education in School Administration from Alabama State University. He has also served as director of federal programs; director of curriculum, instruction and assessment; and director of special education. He was principal of Charles Henderson Middle School in Troy, an assistant principal and a classroom teacher.
He was selected as Alabama’s District III Superintendent of the Year and has completed the Texas Superintendent Academy and the University of Alabama Superintendents Academy.
“My vision is simple. It’s to resiliently move this school system forward,” Threadgill said during his interview. “I feel like I have a vested interest, with my wife being a teacher, and my children going to school here.
“It’s in my DNA. I’m from here, I’ve gone off to make my own way, to be successful on every level, and now I’m coming back home and it’s not for a title or a position. I could have had that in Elba. I came home to make a difference, no matter what position I’m in.”