Monday, January 08, 2007

Peter Gorman on being a newcomer

Following the article in today's paper, here's more from the interview with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent, Peter Gorman, a newcomer from California:

Q. Talk a little bit more about how you chose your south Charlotte neighborhood.

A. We like that we’re in a one-street neighborhood because we didn’t want too much action. We knew that we also wanted to go to an area that was older homes and trees, that kind of experience. We wanted the opposite of California. There, we had a house that was about three years old with no trees. We wanted a little charm, a little flavor. We also wanted a lot that was big enough for dogs.

Q. Has it taken you a while to figure out who the movers and shakers are?

A. I could be myopic and just go with the folks that are involved in more visible activities. (At the) Chamber of Commerce, I met a particular group of folks, very involved in events and activities and goings-on. There was a whole group of individuals that were not there - the affiliation with the religious community, and that’s such a strong component here. So I’ve had to go and meet religious leaders and get feedback from folks like Claude Alexander from University Park Baptist and Gregory Moss from St. Paul (Missionary Baptist).

I’ve also had to reach out and find the municipality mayors. They’re all important. We’re Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. We’ve got to remember that although the vast majority of our kids live in Charlotte, there’s a good number of kids who live in different municipalities.

Q. Have you had a chance to explore? Have you gotten lost?

A. I’ve gotten lost a lot. The one perk I’ve taken on the job: I had them put a GPS in my car. I drive a district car. With 160-plus schools, the district’s gotten their money back already by me getting places quicker.

(With my family,) we’ve wandered. We’ve found quirky places we like. We found a pizza place we like, right by our house, the Mellow Mushroom. We’ve explored Matthews; we like it very much. We went up and spent some time in Davidson; it’s just a quaint little community.

For Halloween, we took our daughter for a drive and we went to get pumpkins out near Mint Hill in an area that was rural. That’s cool. And yet it was so close to our house.

What I do stay away from is the freeways. I stay away from Interstate 485. I don’t go to that mall on Pineville-Matthews, Carolina Place, because of the traffic.

Q. You came from a school district where the average home value was close to $700,000. What do you think of home values here?

A. I love Charlotte house prices. We got a lot more house and way more land for a lot less than we sold our place in California for. Now I’m thrilled that I own more of my house.

Q. As a family, have you found the community hospitable to you as newcomers?

A. It’s the most hospitable community I’ve ever lived in. We’ve had more offers of help than anywhere we’ve been.

We had people bring us food in our neighborhood. I had an awful lot of people invite me out to eat when I first got here. I got a lot of bachelor sympathy. I’ve got to be careful. I’ve put on 16 pounds since I’ve been here.

I didn’t know macaroni and cheese was a vegetable. I don’t like ice tea, and people look at me like I’m nuts. I like barbecue. I went to the Charlotte Country Club one night with someone, and it was barbecue night, and they had seven kinds of sauce. It was fun but confusing. I didn’t realize some days the most difficult decision I’ll make is what type of sauce to have with my barbecue.

Q. What do you still want to find in the community?

A. Entertainment things we can do with our family. We took our daughter to the Carolina Raptor Center. We loved it. I need to find those things with our daughter and experience them.

It’s been like drinking out of a fire hose, it’s been big gulps. I want to go back and savor it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live in San Jose'California and Im with Peter in his Court; California is the epitomy of free speech; The weather is 80 degrees everyday and the seafood is outstanding and the scrumptious "MOUNTAIN MIKES PIZZA" yummy. The South is a conservative ,anal , tell someone what they want to hear , kind of place. I can go down to a breakfast place in a bathrobe in California and not many would take notice. Im glad Peter is here with me in HELLS Kitchen Charlotte I dont feel isolated .

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Gorman will get the Charlotte school system if you give him a chance and time; This school system has been under funded , teachers way under paid, and trailers for classrooms. With Richten/Hanson brick right down the road I am shocked they couldnt give them a tax break to help with building supplies. Same with steel buildings , North Carolina is a leader in steel building construction and steel beams but yet no buildings. WHY WHY WHY GOD cant the Queen of England come here like she is in Jamestown and finish this town. I pray to God for a miracle for new schools

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep praying to your false sky god. That's why things never change. Start by changing yourself. Do things for yourself and stop relying on your spoon fed B.S. religion.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you "smite" my post ?

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter has a hard job on his hands in Charlotte; History states that this is where busing started with the plan leading to a Nationwide decision. Now, they want to give schools autonomy on how they will handle problems such as behavior, financing and many other headache problems that man has created in education. In Columbus, Ohio we got rid of one huge School system and created many systems all ran by the "Rule of Law". This new system works far much better than the old creating watch groups for every school. We stopped busing and put the bus money into books, teachers and more time in the class room instead of on a bus. But its your choice Charlotte live in the past or go on into the future.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlotte everybody starts out with sniles and starts growing fangs; Charlotte got caught up in "Gang Warfare" in the last few years . People getting shot off the front porch and through their car windows, that sort of thing. We have a slogan for Charlotte " Dont bring your mastercard here bring your bullet proof vest" People may have security windows put on their glass like bullet proof and Rocket launchers mounted on the front and back for protection. Jet propulsion for easy and quick get a way like "batmobile". The Schools need to throw out all trouble makers and make their Parents sign a legal notice in agreement" Tou shall be responsible for your kids actions and if not you will have to "Home educate your own kid". We cant hold back the many for the few. Love you Peter great job and welcome to where "People tell you what you want to hear and not what they are thinking."

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Run as fast as you can from the churches and the church folk.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We just moved here from Santa Barbara, CA and only been here a month. We live in Matthews and are
really finding Charlotte to be beautiful. We would love to meet some people. We are very
much a typical Californian, easy going,into health food, lead personal growth workshops, enjoy spirituality and red wine of course. Any Suggestions how to or where to meet people or cool places to go.
Thanks, Tess and Mick

6:03 PM  

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