Tulsa Public School Superintendent Dr. David Sawyer is preparing to retire and return to his home state of Virginia.
News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims sat down with Sawyer to talk about his tenure at Tulsa Public Schools and his advice for the new guy.
Dr. David Sawyer says the last five years have gone by awfully quickly. And he admits steering the largest school district in the state wasn't always easy. â€œI've had to use every skill I have, so I haven't been bored." One of Sawyer's first major decisions in 2001 to reinvent McLain High School as the Tulsa School for Science and Technology caused quite a stir and will continue to have an impact long after he's gone. Test scores and attendance have improved at TSST, but enrollment has not. â€œAs that program matures we are hopeful and optimistic that it will attract more and more students.â€
Sawyer counts adding full-day kindergarten and restoring the arts and librarians to schools throughout the district as some of his accomplishments. But he says he wished he'd done more for alternative education. â€œBut we haven't been able to do many of the things we wanted to do in alternative ed. We wanted to be able to have substantially more options available to youngsters who for whatever reason aren't succeeding."
Sawyer says he's pleased with the level of experience of his successor, Dr. Michael Zolkoski. He says the superintendent-elect should take advantage of the talent already here, but make his mark, because the road ahead could be a little bumpy. â€œI think there's always a challenge for a district that's not growing we're static at best."
Sawyer says he hopes Zolkoski enjoys Tulsa as much as he has. He calls his experience a perfect capstone to his career. But he adds he's looking forward to more free time to indulge in his favorite past time, playing his banjo.