MISD announces 'lone finalist' for superintendent position

MISD announces 'lone finalist' for superintendent position
(Source: Cedar Hill ISD)

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Midland ISD has announced the lone finalist for the superintendent position.

Orlando Riddick will be speaking at Monday night's school board meeting. He is currently working for Cedar Hill ISD.

The following is the full press release from Midland ISD:

I am excited to give you this report on the status of our efforts to find Midland Independent School District's next superintendent.

Before beginning this superintendent search, your MISD Board of Trustees, in February and March, sought input from students, teachers, staff members, parents, and a diverse cross-section of community members and business leaders concerning what they were seeking in our next superintendent.  This input was obtained from a series of thirty in-person meetings and in excess of 1,000 completed on-line surveys that were facilitated by the search firm that was employed to assist us with this search, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates.

The input we received from all those stakeholders confirmed that we should seek to find someone who, at all levels, has focused on improving academic outcomes for all students in culturally-diverse student population districts while establishing a culture of high expectations for not only students,but every instructional leader.  This leadership success was to have been built upon utilizing instructional best practices, and being receptive to exploring and implementing innovative and creative ideas.

We also sought to find an academic leader who had a demonstrated track record of working collaboratively in affecting positive educational changes and communicating effectively and transparently with all stakeholders. We additionally wanted someone who embraced a "growth mindset" and a "no excuses philosophy."

We are pleased to report that we have found that person to serve as MISD's next superintendent. His name is Orlando Riddick.

At our school board meeting tonight, which is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. at Bowie Fine Arts Academy's auditorium, we will be voting on Orlando, to name him the "Lone Finalist" to be MISD's next superintendent.  Once named, state law requires that we wait twenty-one days before we can vote to "hire" him.

Until then, we wanted to share the following information about Orlando's educational career, which demonstrates the confidence that has been placed in his ability to take on increasing responsibilities and challenges.  He has progressively developed his ability to lead others toward successful outcomes and we are confident he will do so for MISD.

A very brief description of his educational career and accomplishments is as follows:

Dallas ISD: Teacher and English Department Chair(1997-2002):  facilitated academic growth and gains in the English Department that elevated the campus to a "Recognized" rating by the State.

Fort Worth ISD and San Antonio ISD: Asst. Principal (2002-2007): developed academic tutorials and a Saturday school program for attendance recovery, and maintained and created innovations with small learning communities, i.e. "academies," that led the district in implementation and readiness.

Dallas ISD: Principal, W.T. White High School (2007-2010):  led efforts to raise state test scores in all core areas for three consecutive years elevating the school to a "Recognized" state rating and began the innovation to what was the forerunner to an Early College High School program with a local college.

Austin ISD: Director of High Schools (2010-2012):helped successfully lead Eastside High School, which prior to his arrival was that district's most struggling campus and was on the brink of closure because it had had not met state or federal standards for five straight years.  Within two years after Orlando's arrival, this school met those standards and established a high expectations culture forlearning.  He also developed and implemented an in-district charter school on two high school campuses to engage at-risk students. Meanwhile, high school achievement results on STAAR and End of Course exams across the district rose remarkably under his leadership and exceeded the state averages in four out of five areas.

Houston ISD: Chief of High Schools (2012-2014):implemented instructional rounds for forty-five high schools; lead an increase in students taking and passing AP exams; and helped lead a successful bond issue that was used to rebuild 28 district high schools.

Cedar Hill ISD: Superintendent (2014 to present):

• Developed and implemented a new college readiness program that included a new College Preparatory elementary school, a new College Academy middle school, and helped to improve the district's Early College High School to become currently ranked as the number one Early College High School in Texas and the number three ranked program in the nation.

• Led the district to become a "STEAM" (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) district.

• Led the removal of all four campuses that had beenpreviously been designated as "Improvement Required."

• Helped lead the development and phenomenal growth of the "All-Pro Dad's" program that began with 4 members and now has over 1,200 dads actively participating in improving their child's educational outcomes, while also mentoring those students without dads.

• Recognized by the business community in 2017 as their "Man of the Year" for his leadership, collaboration, innovation, and communication skills in leading the district as a partner in the community.

In interviewing those who have worked with and for Orlando these common descriptions emerged: "passionate, innovator, strategic thinker and leader, data-driven, thorough evaluator, listener, expects excellence, communicator, collaborative team builder, inspirational, and continual learner."

Here are some examples of what some of the persons familiar with Orlando's work have to say about him:

"I want to congratulate the Midland ISD Board on its intention to name Orlando Riddick as its next superintendent.  I have had the pleasure of knowing and following his professional career for almost a decade now.

My knowledge of his work began when he was principal at W.T.White High School in Dallas where I, along with representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, paid him and his campus a visit. His leadership of instructional reforms on that campus moved my organization, Educate Texas, to support district-wide innovations for low income, minority, first-generation students.

I then followed Orlando's work to Austin ISD and Houston ISD where he led their high school redesign work and supported the turnaround of a number of low performing campuses.  In both districts, Orlando worked to create a portfolio of high quality schools that included early college, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) academies, and career-themed schools.

This year, I asked Orlando to present to the Educate Texas Board on the work that he was leading in Cedar Hill where under his leadership, significant progress has been made, especially in creating a culture of excellence along with a college and career readiness focus.

Orlando has a keen eye for what constitutes quality instruction and knows how to develop the systems, and more importantly the people, to execute on an agenda of excellence.  He is an articulate speaker who knows how to bring the community together to support change.  Whether speaking with business and industry leaders to get their support for greater investments in the school and district, to sitting down with families and listening to their concerns, hopes and aspirations, Orlando brings his own personal integrity and a true love for education to everything that he does." Chris Coxon, Managing Directorof Educate Texas (consultant to Educate Midland).

"This past fall, Educate Texas was honored to lead a delegation of Texas leaders to Singapore.  The trip, sponsored by Charles Butt of HEB, focused on the innovative strategies that have led the nation state to be recognized as one of the best educational systems in the world.  Specifically, the delegation explored the country's teacher preparation program and its career-focused schools.  The delegation consisted of K12, higher education, and business leaders from six regions of the state that participate in the week-long learning tour.  Educate Texas invited Superintendent Orlando Riddick to be a part of the delegation based on his history of leadership and development of innovative school models.  During the trip, leaders shared promising practices with one another and envisioned how to work more productively to align their academic programs to the workforce demands of their communities and to more effectively and efficiently modify their programming.  Superintendent Riddick's leadership added to the success of the trip as he shared his experiences and ideas for improving educational outcomes for all students and preparing teachers to support those students."George Tang, Educate Texas.

"Orlando Riddick is an outstanding example of a collaborative leader and how that can generate a culture of greatness in an institution."  Todd Williams, Executive Director of Dallas Commit!.

"Orlando has the innate ability to make students, staff, parents, and community members understand the value of the education mission.  He believes in high expectations for students and that all students, regardless of back ground, should live the dream of graduation from high school with the skills to be successful in college or the work force."  Dr. Robin Ryan, Superintendent, Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (Dr. Ryan hired Orlando to serve as principal at W.T. White High School).

"Because of his passion, intelligence and his incredible work ethic, Orlando has become one of those superintendents that I seek out thoughts from and listen to carefully when he speaks.  And because of these traits, he has garnered respect across the state and been able to positively impact student performance in his current role as Superintendent of Schools for Cedar Hill ISD." David Vroonland, Superintendent Mesquite Independent School District.

?Everyone should also know that at the start of our search, the members of the Hazard search firm team agreed that they would not just receive applications from those interested in applying for this position, but would actively recruit those that fit the qualities we were looking for even if they were not otherwise interested in leaving their current position.  In fact, we were especially interested in them identifying and recruiting persons who were perfectly happy where they are and doing a great job in their current position.  Orlando is one such person they identified and specifically recruited to apply.

?Orlando is originally from El Paso, Texas. He explains that it is here where his cultural roots were firmly supported by bothhis Hispanic and African American upbringing. His grandmother, Maria Alvarez, who came from Torreon, Mexico and his grandfather, Charles Session, raised on a reservation in Oklahoma, raised a multicultural family that has served the El Paso community to this day. Orlando's military aspirations and career were shaped as he was raised in a military family. This upbringing helped shape his dedication, structure, and systems thinking, while always emphasizing team and excellence. His upbringing along with the diversity of his family has allowed him to appreciate the nuances of being bicultural. His wife, Yvette (Herrera) Riddick, has been his inspiration and thought partner for over 20 years. Together they expect that their children--Alejandra, Diego, and Aaron--will be confident and productive contributors to their community. Alejandra who attends Texas State University and Diego who will attend The University of Texas at Arlington, in the fall, have both fulfilled an expected outcome for the next steps in their journey. Orlando notes that this is an example of what he wants from every student: the ability to confidently, intelligently, and articulately express themselves as a college and career ready MISD student. Aaron, his youngest child, will be attending high school in MISD. Orlando looks forward to his progression to becoming a confident MISD student as he embarks on his goals and aspirations.

Here is what Orlando included in his written application when he ultimately decided to apply for this position after being recruited to do so:  "As a leader who is keen on understanding the dynamics that grow and deflate a community, I have learned that listening emphatically and creating a results-driven environment are what a community must have.  The community of MISD is ready and so am I.  Together we can move every campus to a level of academic excellence."?

Orlando and his wife, Yvette, will be attending the meeting tonight and once approved to be our Lone Finalist, will address those in attendance.  We invite you to attend to meet and learn more about him.?

Meanwhile, MISD will continue to benefit from Rod Schroder's extraordinary academic leadership for the remainder of this school year and in the transition period this summer.  We are extremely grateful for all his hard work this year.

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