The Metro Nashville Public Schools board welcomed the district’s new interim director at its April 23 meeting.

Adrienne Battle, who officially began the temporary position April 15, replaced former Director Shawn Joseph following the board’s April 9 vote to buy out his contract.

“This is a great opportunity, and it is even a greater responsibility,” Battle said.

During her first meeting as interim director, Battle outlined her three main goals for the district: prioritizing students, eliminating “distractions” and setting high expectations for students, teachers, staff and administrators.

“Students are at the core of what we do,” she said. “Everything we do must benefit them and their pursuit of a diploma ... this begins as early as pre-K and kindergarten.”

Battle said she also believes in setting high expectations for the district’s 86,00 students and more than 11,000 administrators, staff and teachers. High expectations must be met with support, Battle said, adding she plans to prioritize employee compensation during her tenure.

“As an administrator, part of my job is to make sure our teachers and the other MNPS employees have everything they need to provide a high level of support to students,” she said. “Employees take care of our students, and I want to take care of them, because when you combine high expectations with high support, you get great student outcomes.”

With the last day of school for MNPS set for May 23, Battle said she encourages the district to "eliminate the distractions" by focusing on tasks such as end-of-year testing.

“The third thing we must do is eliminate the distractions, especially as we are currently in testing season … it's what the system requires and what our students deserve,” Battle said. “We need better listening. We need more informed decision making. We need to keep more of our focus on the students and less of it on the things that distract us from our goals.”

Before accepting the position, Battle worked as a community superintendent overseeing all schools located in the district’s southeast quadrant. The board has not determined the details of Battle’s contract or the duration of the position as of April 23.

“As (interim director) do not expect rash, uninformed, knee-jerk changes because we need a smooth ending to a challenging year,” she said. “That said, I'm not planning on being just a caretaker either. I'm not planning on waiting to do what needs to be done to help our students.”