Kenneth Folks, the newest superintendent of East Allen County Schools, admits he likes to smile. That he likes to collaborate and seek consensus before acting.
Those attributes might seem trivial to some, but in a district that has sometimes given the appearance that none of those things are easy to come by, it could just be the start of a tenure that unites EACS.
Folks was introduced as superintendent on Wednesday, ending a months-long search by the district to replace Karyle Green. A Snider graduate, Folks has local ties – he has worked in Northwest Allen County Schools at Carroll Middle School and its freshman campus, as well as in Wells County at Norwell middle and high schools – and comes to EACS after working the last three years in Marion Community Schools.
During a media availability Wednesday, Folks responded, "I love challenges" when asked why he felt he was the right person for the job with the district. "With my experience, I felt I could make a difference."
EACS, in many ways, could use that type of enthusiasm for what, in many ways, is the public face of education for multiple, diverse communities that make up the district.
The latter portion of Green's tenure was dogged by complaints – whether real or unfounded – that she was less interested in seeking the opinions of others before setting course for the district and that the insights and experiences of employees and taxpayers in the district felt less valued.
Folks, at least on Wednesday, said that won't be the case with him.
"I expect to be very engaged, very visible, in the buildings," he said. "I'm a very open kind of person. One of the things I'm most looking forward to is meeting the people and getting involved."
"I am a transformational leader," Folks said later. "People know that they can approach me."
Folks, who has a wife and two adult sons, has a three-year contract with the district that starts July 1.
EACS board president Neil Reynolds said that he and the board "are very, very excited to have Ken onboard," which, if true, will also be helpful, considering the configuration of the board before last year's elections appeared to struggle, at times, to work with Green.
Reynolds, when asked about some of those difficulties, responded "that's water under the bridge" and said the board is ready to move forward.
It will have to, and quickly – school will begin approximately six weeks after Folks' start date.