An Interview with VASD Superintendent Dr. Tremayne Clardy: Moving Beyond the Pandemic

Tremayne Clardy

Verona Area School District Superintendent Tremayne Clardy is entering his third year of leading the district

Part 1 of 2

By Jonathan Gramling

For someone with a tremendous amount of responsibility, Dr. Tremayne Clardy, superintendent of the Verona Area School District carries it well. As we meet in the VASD administrative offices, Clardy looks the same as he did several years ago when he took the position. And he wears a smile that says he is in a good place.

“There isn’t a day where I don’t recognize how blessed I am to be the superintendent of the Verona Area School District,” Clardy exclaimed. “I get up and do the work and I love it. I have a phenomenal team of educators around me. It feels good to know that this is not — and never has been — a one person show. We have like-minded individuals here to support students. We understand that we are self-less leaders. It’s just good to have a team that thinks about all students in that way. It’s really a blessing to be here.”

One thing that keeps Clardy feeling blessed is her knows exactly where he stands with the school board — and community — and what he needs to accomplish.

“We’ve got the three major priority areas that we were focused on and wanted to get accomplished in years one or two. We wanted to set up a strong governance model. We utilize the Coherent Governance model here in the Verona school district. What that allowed us to do is it placed us in a situation where the leader is not only able to partner with a very strong and supportive board of education, but any leader just wants to know and understand what the expectations are and what they are accountable for doing. If you give me those two things as a leader, I can figure out the rest of it and do my job to the best of my ability. That has been very valuable here. And our board of education has not swayed away from that at all. It places a high level of accountability on the superintendent, which I want. I want to be held accountable for the outcomes because it places decision-making into my hands and the hands of our team and we are accountable to our board of education.”

And that accountability means that he keeps the board up-to-date on the accomplishment of the board’s and district’s goals.

“For each board meeting, we come prepared to demonstrate how our students are performing along a very broad range of metrics,” Clardy said. “We also have measures of how well we are communicating with our families. How well are we treating staff? How are the hiring processes going? How are our retention processes going? That partnership with the board of education is all that a community could ask for because we are very clear. It’s not about the easier things that we do. I don’t want to disappoint. I want to be held accountable to our board because when we are accountable to our board, I am also accountable to our community. The checks and balances and the clear lanes of accountability really make it a beneficial partnership between the superintendent and the board.”

Clardy is also feeling blessed because the district has pretty much put the staffing issues of the pandemic era behind it.

“We are very fortunately highly staffed right now,” Clardy said. “And so we still have vacant positions in the single digits right now. Things will still continue to move during the next few weeks before school starts. It’s competitive out there. It’s very competitive. You may have staff who make a choice. But what we pride ourselves on is having such a strong belief and actions that let our staff know that they are valued. That comes in the way that we treat our staff, the way that we provide sound professional development and growth opportunities and the compensation is always important as well. You want to properly compensate your staff and you want to have them work in an environment where they feel appreciated. And so we’ve been able, for the most part, to hold strong to that and be able to provide a positive atmosphere.”

Underlying that positive atmosphere is the general emphasis on the health and wellbeing of everyone in the district.

“Making Wellness & Mental Health. a five-year priority is not just a formal recognition of the need that is there,” Clardy said. “It’s also an understanding that education is a very tough job to do. And so you have the internal stressors over work and we all have outside stressors as well. We can’t call ourselves a family and say we don’t care about what happens. That is disingenuous leadership. It’s highly prioritized to build in wellness opportunities for our staff to have spaces for wellness and spaces through some of our providers for continuous support of mental health is important. We don’t look at it as a taboo. We look at it as real. We understand that it impacts all of us in some way or family members in some way. We have to have the opportunity to talk about things and provide support as much as possible.”

Next issue: How Are the Children?