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Virginia Moon is on Medicare and drawing from her retirement funds, so what else to do besides apply and become the interim superintendent of the Omaha Public Schools, the largest and most diverse district in Nebraska?
Moon, 66, was introduced Tuesday to applause from the seven school board members in attendance and a few employees at OPS headquarters, 3215 Cuming St.
Monday, the board voted 8-4 to name Moon as the district's interim leader. She will succeed Superintendent John Mackiel, who plans to retire Aug. 31.
Her start date is not set because her contract is still being finalized, she said. She is expected to serve for about a year while the board works with a consultant to find a permanent successor.
Moon most recently worked as the interim leader of the Broken Bow Public Schools for two years. Before that, she retired for a year after being the superintendent of the Ralston Public Schools for 11 years.
Tuesday, she talked with reporters about the current OPS controversy, what she wants to accomplish this school year and why she wanted the job.
Q: What attracted you to this job at OPS?
A: I think it's an opportunity to serve. I'm the kind of person, I think, that needs to serve, to be of use. ... I've watched the Omaha Public Schools. There are great number of students here who need our help.
Q: How do you plan on working with all this controversy — Nancy Sebring's sexually explicit emails and OPS officials' withholding information about them from board members?
A: I think it will pass. We'll work through that. The controversy isn't the heart of what we have to do. What's at the heart of what we have to do is to serve our students and to do the very best job we can. Frankly, in the school business, there's always controversy. But it's not the most important thing, and we'll get through it.
Q: What do you make of the events of the past two months?
A: I'm sad that the district has to go through this. It happens; we're all human beings, and human beings make mistakes. It's just unfortunate because it does make an organization vulnerable and uncertain.
Q: Will your previous opposition to OPS's “one city, one school district” effort that involved a plan to take over parts of the Ralston school district affect your ability to lead OPS?
A: No. It's in the past. That part's done. I have no animosity, nor at that time any animosity towards the OPS district or the staff or the people who are here.
Q: How do you go about convincing staff and the four board members who voted against hiring you that you're not with Ralston and against OPS these days?
A: It's not an us-against-them, fortunately, right now, but they'll have to get to know me, I guess. I'll do my best. And I think by my actions, people will be more confident that there's no grudges or a history of the past. I'm not much about dwelling in the past.
Q: What's one thing you want to accomplish this year?
A: I think the most important thing that I would like to accomplish is to build the confidence, build those relationships, help to build those relationships with the school district and the community ... so that there's a smooth transition to the permanent superintendent.
Q: You could retire, relax and enjoy life. Why do this?
A: You know what I've found out about retirement? I did it for one year. What I found out about retirement is that I'm clearly not a person who likes to relax. My idea of relaxing is to work. So, this is, dare I say it, this is fun.
Q: What else should we know about you? A: I love books on tape. I like fiction but I don't have enough ... time to read. So I will always have a book with me in the car. I'm not always on time. (My secretary) will have to help me, scoot me out the door, be sure I get there when it's time to be there. I think that you will find me to be passionate, pretty much what you see is what you get. I'm not very crafty, not very secretive. I like to be open and honest with people. .
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Dr. Virginia Moon discusses her plans as OPS interim superintendent