Fort Worth ISD’s new superintendent hopes to bridge business with education

FWISD Superintendent Kent Scribner. (Photo by Samantha Calimbahin)

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is the question people often ask a child to find out what career he or she wants to pursue.

Kent Scribner, Fort Worth Independent School District’s incoming superintendent, said the Fort Worth community should be asking students a different question: “What kinds of problems to do you want to solve?”

“We are living in an age where our young people are going to have dozens of jobs in their adult lives, not one career that they’re going to stick with for 30 years,” he said. “There’s going to be an ever-changing employment landscape, and we need to prepare our students for that kind of versatility.”

Connecting students with high-demand careers in Fort Worth is one item Scribner wants to focus on as incoming superintendent, he said Thursday at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of Education Luncheon.

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In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, some of the most in-demand industries are technology, aerospace and nursing, said Mark Tarpley, chair of Quality Workforce Development Committee for the Chamber. The Quality Workforce Development Committee is tasked with enacting an initiative to bring together government, private businesses, colleges and public schools to help students prepare for careers.

“Oftentimes students don’t know where to begin, and oftentimes families don’t know where to begin in that process moving forward through education and job development,” Tarpley said.

Scribner said businesses and organizations need to partner with schools to create initiatives that facilitate the transition from being a student to being an employee.

“I’m going to ask the business community to help me convene leaders from all sectors of the community — educators, business leaders, the philanthropic community, nonprofits, social service agencies, our faith-based organizations and others — toward getting a mature and strategic plan that focuses on a thriving Fort Worth,” he said.

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Scribner was hired as Fort Worth ISD’s superintendent in September, assuming the position after Walter Dansby stepped down in 2014. Patricia Linares served as interim superintendent as the district searched for someone to take the position permanently.

Scribner previously served as superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District in Phoenix, Ariz., a district with about 27,000 students. Fort Worth ISD has about 87,000 students.

Some Fort Worth ISD students who attended the event say they are excited about the new superintendent.

Michael Ray, a sophomore at Southwest High School who attended the event, said he’s excited about Scribner.

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“The things that we struggle in, he’s trying to reverse those things,” he said. “I feel really comfortable with him being our superintendent.”

Fellow Fort Worth ISD student, Paschal High School senior Victor Argueta, agrees.

“He’s trying to make everyone feel equal and have everyone have the same opportunities at Fort Worth ISD,” Argueta said.

Scribner’s first day of work is Oct. 15. One of the first tasks on his agenda is to meet with Fort Worth ISD’s Board of Trustees to analyze the organizational structure of the school system and create a new organizational plan by the end of the semester, he said.

“We need to prepare Fort Worth students for Fort Worth jobs,” Scribner said.