The New Top Dog: New Superintendent Michael Beresford discusses upcoming background, plans as superintendent


Riya Chinni, Veronica Teeter

Why did you decide to step into the position of superintendent?

I was at a point in my career where I’ve had a lot of experience and I just felt that it was time to go ahead and move out of the assistant superintendency and go ahead and go for the big chair, so I think it was just timing. I felt a real peace about it, it was time, and this job became available and I was encouraged to apply for it, and I was flattered by th00at and this ran the course and I ended up being the guy at the end of the day.

When does your term officially begin?

July 2.

What drew you to Carmel Clay Schools?

Carmel’s awesome. First, it’s just a first-class organization, and being a next-door neighbor on the other side of the river, our communities are similar. Every school system has its own culture but I’ve always loved Carmel. Some of my children’s own friends live in Carmel and went to CHS and we spent a lot of time over here of course, in the arts area. For a district like Carmel to open up, it was just a no-brainer to try and be a part of the system.

What aspects of Carmel Clay Schools do you enjoy?

From a school guy, first off you’ve got a great student body. You’ve got parents that value education. Students come to school regularly, you’ve got great facilities and an outstanding teaching staff. Your leaders and your principals are really good people, they really care about kids and do they best job they can do to support the kids and the teachers in the classroom. Facilities are awesome, athletics, clubs, the whole package is great. It’s a very high-performing, I always say high-tech, high-touch. You want to have a really strong academic presence but also want to have a program where you care about the whole person, not just your brains, but your hearts and how you grow your character to be a good person, and Carmel just had all those things.

What are you most excited about?

Getting to know everybody, to meet people and form relationships and partnerships. I’m going to be listening and talking to everybody, I want to hear what students have to say about Carmel Clay Schools and I want to hear what the community thinks and I want to spend some quality time with teachers and administrators and staff members. I’m really excited about just learning the Carmel way and how things are done around here. Probably the most rewarding part of being in education leadership, personally for me, is I like working with high-performing teams that really care about their students and really try to make school extraordinary, something special for their students.

What new changes do you hope to implement?
I didn’t come in with a list of things I wanted to change about Carmel. The old expression, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” One thing about Carmel is that the people here always want to do better. You can call it continuous improvement… really it’s about where are we now, how are things going, and what can we do to make things better? In education, you’ve got to keep working, keep changing. You get a new group, a new generation every couple of years and you have to adapt to that generation and also the future for you guys is always changing so we have to adapt to the future to prepare you for it so we’re always in a state of changing to get better.

Do you have a specific plan for CCS going forward?

What I’ve told everybody is that I’m going to go on a listening tour, I’m just going to go to anybody who’ll talk to me and what I’m going to do is just be with people and ask them questions… and then just listen. What I’m going to do is collect that information and see what trends and commonalities, what do teachers say and what do a lot of them say and try to look at that information and draw trend data out of it, figure out where we are as a baseline and what are the things we can do to get better.

Do you plan to further CHS’s Culture of Care program?

I’m totally in support of anything that promotes good mental health. There’s kind of stigma about mental health… kids and adults too, mental health is the same as physical health in many ways. I want every kid to feel comfortable that if they’re struggling or something’s bugging them or they’re feeling anxious or depressed or they’re having attention issues or whatever, that they feel comfortable to say “there’s something going on here, I need help” because I don’t want any kid in  any school anywhere to suffer alone in silence when there’s people around who’ll help. I’m hoping that we’ll be (promoting good mental health) in all the schools this year.

Do you plan on bringing new safety procedures to CCS?

Absolutely, I don’t know what they are yet, but absolutely. I’ve met our head SRO, DJ Schoeff, and right now I’m in the evaluation process and we’re going to look at some different things that could be implemented. We’ll be talking to students about it. The number one most important person in school safety are students, and the communication between students and adults is the most important thing. We say that students are the eyes and the ears of the school, because you guys know what’s really going on. If there’s something wrong, if you see something, say something. We count on you to give us the information we need to make sure that we have a safe school. We’re going to have processes in place where it’s so easy for you guys to do that. We’ll be a text away, and if you want to tell us stuff confidentially, we’ll have a system for you to do that. That way, we can always communicate and help people.

What is your goal as a superintendent?

The most important moment in education, is the interaction between a student and their teacher. This moment needs to be magic. All of our efforts need to be to make this moment a special time for the student and the teacher. You go back up to the principal and the administrators and the school counselors, everything they do should be to make that moment special.

What can we expect for two-hour delays and school closures due to weather?

I’m a little old-school. If it’s cold out, I’m not going to tend to call off school, I want you to put a hat on and some warm gloves. I also want the students to know when you have a two-hour delay, it’s still a school day. If it’s dangerous out, we can have a two-hour delay or not come at all, I’ll be watching the weather, but just be ready because Dr. B wants you to be in school.

What do you want to tell CCS students?

My door is open. If there’s something we can improve or make life better for kids, I’m not hard to find. Just dial the number or come on over and we can chat.

What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?

When I was in high school, I was a distance runner, I was a cross-country and track guy, also in college, and then I coached cross country and track at the high-school level after a few years…. I also like dogs. I’m crazy about dogs.