Starting a new job is a daunting prospect even in the best of circumstances as you acclimate to new faces, new procedures and new expectations; however, Marcus Davenport is stepping into a situation that has gone through a tempest of controversy and concern over the past year.
Davenport was selected in the spring to serve as the new superintendent of Grand Ledge Public Schools. The school district is entering the 2021-2022 school year following a string of issues that included the firing of the previous superintendent over social media comments regarding George Floyd, allegations of racism in the district from students and community members, and raucous school board meetings over the issue of critical race theory.
Despite those challenges, Davenport said his first priority as superintendent is to become a student of the district by listening and learning to its stakeholders.
“My professional theory is that you cannot appropriately change a system you do not fully understand,” he said. “I must spend a tremendous amount of time listening to parents, communicating with our educators, meeting with building leaders and interacting with the community.”
Davenport’s hiring comes as a beacon of hope for many in the district who are anxious for an experienced and empathetic leader with a history of creating positive change in schools. His past tenure includes serving as an elementary and middle school teacher, principal, and superintendent in districts across Michigan and Georgia. That experience lends him an understanding to the importance of patience when entering a new dynamic.
“While doing a great deal of research on the community and the school system, I became more and more intrigued by the documented challenges and the sincere desires of many in the community to find solutions to the challenges,” Davenport said.
Davenport doesn’t presume to have all the answers as to what is right for the district moving forward, but he is dedicated to finding them.
“Every decision will be made after the proper research, fact checking and practical judgements for the best solutions to meet the needs of our students, parents, educators and greater community,” he said. “I am confident that I will work directly with our parents, educators, community members and school board to create solutions to the documented challenges that exist.”
In keeping with his listen-first philosophy, Davenport mentioned his desire to “have the supported ability to retain, recruit and hire the most talented individuals possible to meet the standards of our students.”
The district admittedly been traversing tumultuous times, yet Davenport is confident that the district can deftly navigate the choppy waters for the sake of the students.
“We all are determined to continue the strong legacy that has been established in Grand Ledge Public Schools and create an enhanced chapter of high academic achievement and maximum safety for all students in 2021-2022 and beyond,” he said.