Althea Greene to lead MSCS board in search for new superintendent

MEMPHIS — Althea Greene, a member of the Memphis-Shelby County Schools Board of Trustees, will lead the agency in its search for a new superintendent over the next year.

Greene was unanimously chosen as chairman of the MSCS board, 8-0, after the nominations of Kevin Woods and Stephanie Love on Tuesday night.

Vice-chairman of the board for two years, Greene will replace Michelle McKissack, who recently announced that she plans to run for mayor of Memphis in 2023. McKissack, who was re-elected Aug. 4, chaired the board school as part of its external investigation into former Superintendent Joris Ray, who left his post at the end of August.

As vice president throughout the process, Greene nominated Acting Superintendent Toni Williams, the district’s chief financial officer. Williams was selected in a nearly unanimous vote, with one board member not voting back and forth.

Memphis-Shelby County Schools Board Vice Chair Althea Greene speaks to fellow Memphis-Shelby County Schools employees during a luncheon Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, at the University of Memphis.

Williams has no interest in the permanent position, which Greene listed among the reasons for her appointment.

The board is expected to discuss next steps in the search for a permanent superintendent at October committee meetings in the coming weeks. On Tuesday, Greene introduced a resolution in favor of Williams’ salary reflecting his new duties in the interim role.

Board member Sheleah Harris will serve as Vice Chair of the Board. Nominated by newly elected board chairman Greene, Harris was selected unanimously, 8-0. Harris, who ousted incumbent Scott McCormick in the 2020 election, represents District 5, which represents Cordova.

Greene and Harris were the only nominees.

“We have two former educators leading our board,” Harris, a former educator, said as she accepted her new role.

Greene had a decades-long career as a Memphis educator and was appointed to the school board in February 2019, replacing Teresa Jones, who resigned her seat following a court appointment. Greene ran uncontested in 2020 for election to the District 2 seat, which includes Binghampton, North Memphis and Berclair.

In a piece to The Commercial Appeal, Greene shared a quote from Lao Tzu on leadership: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his job is done, his goal achieved, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

“That’s my favorite quote,” Greene explained. “I am honored to serve as Chairman of the Board. After years of exemplary leadership as Chairman of the Board, my prayer is to continue to lead and support MSCS.”

Last spring, Greene lost a close Democratic primary race to Henri Brooks, who ultimately won a seat on the Shelby County Commission.

Greene will lead a board of directors made up of three new members who each replaced longtime board members who left this year. Amber Huett-Garcia ran unchallenged for the District 8 seat formerly held by Billy Orgel.

Keith Williams was elected to the District 6 seat, beating Charles Everett, who was nominated to the seat in March. Everett replaced longtime board member Shante Avant, who left the seat in February to begin a successful run for the Shelby County Commission.

Longtime board member Miska Clay Bibbs also ran a successful campaign for the Shelby County Commission, of which she is now vice chair. The commission will re-appoint a new board member for the vacant position. Nominations for the District 7 seat are due Oct. 3, and the commission will schedule interviews and vote Oct. 17.

Laura Testino covers education and childhood issues for the trade appeal. Contact her at [email protected] or 901-512-3763. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino