David Snowden was giving considerable thought to retiring after having served as director of schools for the Franklin Special School District for nearly 20 years.
That was before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic a year ago, however, a monumental event that had Snowden reconsidering his plans to step down. He knew there would be tremendous challenges in the months ahead, but he felt an obligation to stay with the district he has led since July 2001.
“My initial thought last year prior to COVID was to drive off into the sunset,” Snowden said Monday night at the FSSD Board of Education’s March meeting. “But if you start something with a group of people, you should be willing to finish that work, especially around COVID.
“And I still love what I’m doing. I have a passion for it. The Lord has blessed me with good health and I work with some of the greatest people. I’m excited to continue our work.”
That work continues at least for a couple more years as the board voted unanimously to extend Snowden’s contract to June 30, 2023, two years beyond its original expiration. Board member Kevin Townsel, who presented the resolution before the 6-0 vote, said the leadership has helped to pull the district through its most difficult year.
“We’re impressed how the teachers went from being so incredible live [in the classroom] to navigating through Zoom and making it work,” he said. “There was no real warning. I think that’s a testament to the leadership team we have, and of course the leader of that team is Dr. Snowden.
“He was a leader through COVID, … and we successfully did it. We wanted to retain him for as long as we could.”
Snowden said all stakeholders of the FSSD have played a key role in keeping matters running as smoothly as possible.
“The teachers, parents, students — everyone in this district — have really decided to get on board with our mitigation and safety protocols,” he said. “And quite frankly, I totally believe that is why we’ve been able to offer in-person teaching and learning for the most part this school year, with very few interruptions. [We have had quarantines and cases], but when you look at the opportunity for our students to be in-person for as many days as we’ve had, it’s just phenomenal.
“I know we were all concerned last summer about students and their willingness to wear masks and that that would be an issue,” Snowden added. “But our students, they’re great. They wear their masks. So all of those concerns have proven to be a nonfactor as our students have stepped up.”