LIVINGSTON – Dr. C. Michael Robinson Jr. does not use the word “students.”
He calls them “scholars.”
“That’s what should be expected,” said Robinson, who is seeking the Livingston Parish school superintendent’s position.
Robinson is one of five applicants for the superintendent’s job. He is scheduled to be interviewed at 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 15, at the Central Office in Livingston.
He holds a B.A. in elementary education from Southern University – New Orleans and master’s degree in educational leadership from Troy State University. His doctorate in educational leadership is from Argosy University of Sarasota, Fla.
Robinson, a native of Thibodaux, is the senior associate with BRP Associates, of Jonesboro, Ga., since November 2018, providing leadership development for principals.
He began his 21½-year educational career as an elementary and junior high teacher in his native Lafourche Parish before becoming a middle-school teacher in Houston and Atlanta and later a high school assistant principal in Georgia.
He also served as a principal in Georgia and Maryland before becoming instructional director for Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland and school superintendent for the Pine Bluff (Ark.) School District.
“Many of the results that I have affected in academic gains for students was because of the ability to build ‘team’ among the staff I had the privilege of serving with and their ability to feel free to do their best thinking as part of the team,” he said in his cover letter.
“I look at Livingston Parish and I applaud the work done there,” Robinson said. “They have done some phenomenal work. I think we all recognize how well the school system has done.
“Nothing is good to the point where it can’t be better,” he said. “I have a progressive mindset with experience in curriculum and career technical education as well.
“You have schools at 95 percent and some in the 80 percent graduation rates. How do we work collaboratively to bring the other high schools into the 90s?,” he asked.
“We have to keep looking forward. We have to look at the data on subgroups, how are they performing.
“I’ve worked in smaller districts, some that approach the same size of Livingston,” Robinson said. “Then there is Prince George’s County, with 130,000 students and 208 schools.”
“I want to make it great, to see Livingston become the beacon for Louisiana and the United States,” he said. “People will come from other areas and ask how were you able to do it?”
The strength of the curriculum, accountability, class management and discipline are part of the formula that Robinson says a successful school system needs.
“I never take credit. The credit goes to teachers, principals and support personnel,” he said. “My vision is an extension of the School Board vision.
“I believe we work through collaboration. I learned people want to be heard,” Robinson said. “The demand on teachers is ever changing. We want to compete in a global society.”
This means a school system “needs an environment conducive for learning. We can’t have that disruption,” he said.
If a student cannot meet the rules, Robinson said the student will be told, “We are here to educate you but in a different environment.
“I expect teachers to teach and you to learn,” he said.
“I want to provide every opportunity for you to have a premiere educational experience, but I will not tolerate disrupting the learning environment.
Providing that educational experience also means making use of the growing technology available.
“When you talk about technology, the institutional leader must really understand the technology,” Robinson said.
“This means professional development for teachers to know how to use technology and how to plan to use it. You’re not just buying equipment.”
A case in point, Robinson said, is a class in auto mechanics learning to replace an engine.
“There is technological programs out there that doctors use where they collaborate and perform the surgery on a computer before they do it live,” he said.
That same technology can be used by a class to change out an engine and see what would happen before they actually do it, he said.
“Teachers can use Google Classroom to post assignments and tasks for student,” Robinson said.
If there is no school due to the weather, there can still be education, he added.
Textbooks are giving way to tech books, Robinson said, which can reduce the funds spent buying books. Students can download books on devices and pull up the book.
“To create good experiences for children with technology,” Robinson said, “comes a great deal of professional development.”
“As we continue the educational journey, we’re looking at a teacher shortage,” he said.
Online teaching of classes may be one answer, Robinson said. Online teaching also could offer classes not usually offered by a school.
“As the superintendent, you have to work in collaboration with community partners, with realtors, business, the housing industry, banks to put together a package of discounts to attract teachers to your district,” he said.
“I’m not talking about guarantees of home loans but helping in the process. When recruiting people, you want them to stay,” he said.
As superintendent, Robinson said it is his job to recruit teachers, go to universities and speak to students.
“We want to get student teachers,” he said. “We want them coming to student teach in Livingston and partner with veteran teachers, so when they graduate, we want to hire these student teachers.”
“Livingston Parish is one of the premiere districts in Louisiana. I don’t take for granted being considered by the board,” Robinson said.
“I was born and raised in Louisiana. It will always be home to me. I like the opportunity to work in Louisiana,” he said.