In a town hall-style session, candidates spoke about how they'd move the school district forward.
At a town hall-style gathering at Buddy Taylor Middle School on April 19, the three finalists for superintendent of the Flagler Schools spoke about their interest in the position and their vision for the district and its schools.
In the first portion of the evening, each candidate was given the opportunity to present an opening statement, followed by questions asked by School Board Chair Trevor Tucker. The questions were the same for each candidate. Finalists then visited with community members at tables set up in different areas of the room; the public was encouraged to engage with each applicant and ask one-on-one questions.
Tager, a former administrator in the Volusia County Public Schools and the current principal of Atlantic High School in Port Orange, said he had been following the Flagler Schools for some time now and was impressed with their recent achievements.
"This district is innovative and ahead of the game," Tager said.
He was eager to help move the district forward in the "positive direction" it is gong, Tager added.
Tager said as an administrator he would directly engage all stakeholders in the schools community.
"One thing I promise you is that I will be very visible," Tagger added.
Finally, Tager said he had fallen in love with the "small-town charm and intimacy" of the Flagler community.
"I talked to three different principals [in the Flagler schools], and they said, 'We're living the dream here,' and when they say they're living the dream, this is a place you want to call home," Tager said.
In talking about his career in education, Umbaugh, currently an administrator on special assignment with the Clay County Schools, said that he was originally drawn to the field because he himself was a different kind of learner as a student.
"I was a child who needed differentiation. ... And this is at the heart of my philosophy this many years later," Umbaugh said, adding that one of his priorities was that every child had the individual resources necessary to succeed in his or her own academic path.
He said he felt that the Flagler Schools were a good match for his particular style of leadership.
"Flagler County's greatest area of need is my greatest area of strength, which is reaching kids who may be struggling," Umbaugh said.
Umbaugh said he admires the path current superintendent Jacob Oliva has put the schools on but that he had his own ideas for the future and would be laying those out more specifically in upcoming interviews with the school board.
Dr. Gerald Wilson
Wilson, presently the superintendent for the Worcester County Public Schools in Maryland, said that he has been the top educational leader in four different districts in four different states.
"I feel like the experiences I've had have all led up to this," Wilson said.
He also spoke about his "collaborative" approach to leadership.
"I have high expectations for those who I work with, and I also have a high degree of empathy," Wilson said.
Wilson said he believed the district was very "high performing," especially given the challenge of serving such a high percentage of lower-income students.
If chosen as the next superintendent, Wilson vowed to be "visible, accessible, a leader and a listener."