The challenge is to find a leader with similar traits as Metcalfe. He has shown over the years the ability to be a consensus builder, someone who was willing to listen to all sides, and to then blend those opinions into something that made sense for the larger community, not just the school district or a personal agenda.
Of course Metcalfe didn’t do it alone. There has been a lot of support from other board members, many in the community, and certainly from the school administration. Those supporters were key, as the fledgling Twin Valley school district has navigated some rocky waters over the past seven years. Through it all, though, Metcalfe has been at the helm. His energy and abilities to deal with people, to bring people together and not be divisive, and to work out front in the public eye and quietly behind the scenes made him exactly what was needed as the first leader of the new entity.
So that’s the challenge. There are certainly people out there to fill the role. The challenge will be to find the person who can bring true leadership. Twin Valley, and the communities of Wilmington and Whitingham, have challenges ahead of them. What to do about the facilities is the big one, of course. But there are also issues of declining enrollment, tuition student recruiting, funding challenges, and a plethora of other challenges.
The schools will need the kind of leadership that continues to bring people together, not drive wedges between communities. One doesn’t have to look too far afield or back in the past to see what happens when a local government board fights among its members, instead of working toward common, shared goals.
Another challenge faced by the schools is replacing longtime Windham Southwest Supervisory Union superintendent Dr. M. Peter Wright. Again, the possibility of a leadership void, this time on the administrative side, needs to be addressed and looked at in the larger context of the broader community, not just the minutiae of district administration.
The challenges also create opportunities, of course. The school district has the opportunity to seek out creative leaders and who can bring new ways of thinking. It needs leaders who can be community builders, who can be articulate, and who can craft diverse thinking and opinions into a workable school board and district that meet the needs of the diverse communities they serve.
In short, it’s imperative that Twin Valley have leaders who can listen, who can forge compromise among diverse opinions, and bring people together in a meaningful way. The alternative just isn’t an option.