ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.
“… And I really have enjoyed my stay, but I must be moving on…
“Goodbye stranger it’s been nice
Hope you find your paradise
Tried to see your point of view
Hope your dreams will all come true” — Supertramp, 1979
An argument could be made that we should’ve seen it coming — the resignation of Wayland Union Schools Superintendent Dr. Christina Hinds. There were telltale signs, but many of us somehow still hoped for the best.
There were too many things that went wrong in what some might call a “bad marriage” between Dr. Hinds and the school district. I just can’t get over the nagging feeling that we collectively didn’t treat her well, we didn’t welcome her with open arms.
I had a hand in this. I wrote an editorial two years ago urging the Board of Education to hire Assistant Supt. for Finance and Operations Patricia Velie, who has shown remarkable skills in handling the school system’s finances and had laid down strong roots in this community before leaving for Boston many years ago.
My crime was that the board believed more in someone with serious credentials in the academic arena, so members opted for Hinds.
I tried to make amends by pointing out the obvious in that Dr. Hinds had strong talent in educational leadership, but it probably was too late.
Five things made Dr. Hinds’ challenge in Wayland a particularly difficult one:
• She was an outsider, an assistant superintendent in Mattawan, just west of Kalamazoo.
• She is a woman. Wayland had one such superintendent more than a decade ago, but that didn’t end well.
• The Covid pandemic arrived a couple of months before she did, and local schools were shutting down in response. It was easy to blame the new leader, about like blaming the president for high gas prices. And then along came the torches and pitchforks and fake horror stories about Critical Race Theory.
• She made a tactical public relations error by insisting she be referred to as “Doctor,” a title she earned, but the move was greeted by some in the community as a portrayal of a “pointy-headed intellectual” and not one of us.
• She was a finalist a year ago for the superintendent’s post at Kalkaska after only a year on the job here. She explained the district was the hometown of her husband, but it demonstrated to too many, including me, that she was more than willing to get out of Dodge quickly.
There is a persistent negative public response to hiring managers and professionals in the public sector who use the position only as a stepping stone to get ahead. For example, Henika Library had only four directors in its first 98 years of existence, but since Lynn Mandaville left, it’s had more than several in less than a decade.
So when the news came earlier this month that she was resigning to take the deputy superintendent’s job at Grand Rapids Northview, I had mixed emotions.
I felt guilt in having a hand in not being welcoming to the newest professional in town. I felt disappointment in her explanations, particularly the second time around, when she seemed to be guilty of corporate-style lying, when a ranking official resigns “to spend more time with his family,” but really wanted out or was being forced out.
This unfortunately reminds me of the old joke, “Don’t pee on my shoes while telling me it’s raining.”
Regardless, I do wish Dr. Hinds well and thank her for her service.