Portsmouth Superintendent leads way as President of Urban Superintendents Association of America

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – With concerns about school safety, principals and administrators find it helpful to confide in other school leaders.

This year, Portsmouth Superintendent Dr. Eli Bracey III will lead the National City Superintendent Coalition.

Dr. Bracey says he is humbled by the opportunity to help put Portsmouth on the map as the newest president of the American Association of City Superintendents. He says it’s nice to talk to other school leaders because they often face similar challenges.

“It’s really good because you can get feedback from other observers who have the same concerns as you, but you can see a different approach that they’ve taken,” Dr. Bracey said.

The Association of American Mayors was founded in 1993 in Texas. The year 2023 will be 30 years since the establishment of the union.

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“We’re kind of listening and just comparing notes,” Dr. Eli Bracey III said. “It kind of expands the network you have as a professional.”

Dr. Bracey says some of the problems he sees in his district are likely happening elsewhere in the country.

“You’ve heard it above that it’s lonely, it’s good to have colleagues that you can connect with not only in the state but across the country,” Dr. Bracey said.

Dr. Bracey says some of the concerns they are looking at include student attendance, the poverty index and how it affects students, school safety and security, and improving test scores after the pandemic.

“A lot of us deal with students who are inner-city, from low-income homes, and when they come to us, we generally try to catch them,” Dr. Bracey said. “They come to us, usually we try to get them out before the pandemic, now add the pandemic on top of that and now we have the added concern that we’re trying to get our students back up to par.”

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Dr. Bracey says collaboration in ways to attract and retain teachers is also important.

“Personally in Portsmouth, our students come to us, so we need additional staff,” Dr. Bracey said. “We have to be competitive on salary when we have some of our neighbors who have more resources than us to be able to attract the best and brightest teachers.”

This year, he also wants to focus on ways to build healthy relationships between school board members and superintendents.

“If we have the right relationship, I think it will help because as superintendents we’re doing everything we can, but we have to make sure our board members understand that,” Dr. Bracey said.

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He says many superintendents are leaving their positions after the pandemic, and he believes that has something to do with school boards.

“Just focus on what a good board should be and what we as superintendents do when we see a board that’s really trying to toe the line as a superintendent, what do we do to get past that,” said Dr. Bracey.

Finding solutions to common problems while everyone is focused on the same goal.

“We try to address topics that affect our students, who are the most important people we’re in this business for,” Dr. Bracey said.

The City Superintendents Summer Academy will be held in Williamsburg this year. It is scheduled from July 11 to 16.


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