March 8, 2010
“The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant and kind.” These words by W. Somerset Maugham seem appropriate when discussing our changes in the administration in the Gateway District. The success of our elementary principal and assistant principal in managing five schools, contributing to the consolidation question, reflecting on the transition process, meeting parent needs, working collaboratively with staff and above all, working with students to ensure success has only made them more able to relate to their various constituencies. I believe that parents have understood the difficulty of two administrators trying to be in five schools every day. This is an issue that will be resolved through the consolidation process with the assistant principal’s primary office being in Chester and the principal’s primary office being in Littleville, thus providing a more consistent presence to parents and their children.
Most people in the district recognize that our elementary assistant principal, Rebecca Wancyzk, has been chosen to become the Director of Pupil Services upon the retirement of Margery Gerard. Mrs. Gerard is certainly well respected both in the district and throughout the state and has done an outstanding job with pupil services, as well as the myriad other responsibilities that have fallen to that position as administrative staff have been reduced. The twenty staff and administrators that helped chose Mrs. Wanczyk for this position felt that her special education experience, education and knowledge of the district and its needs would allow her to succeed in this important position for the district.
In a more recent decision, Ms. Joanne Blocker, our elementary principal, has been selected to become the Director of Academics for the district upon the retirement of Dr. Janice Doppler. Dr. Doppler has done an outstanding job of pulling many different aspects of curriculum together in just three short years while helping to define, streamline and effectively use the district’s data and data collection mechanisms. Ms. Blocker was selected without doing an external search as my survey of twenty-six staff members from throughout the district showed overwhelming support and confidence that Joanne was an outstanding candidate for this position. As with many parent comments, the most common statement from staff was disappointment in losing Joanne as an elementary principal. However, as both Joanne and I have pointed out, she will continue to work with all staff in improving instruction, using data, developing appropriate professional development activities, working with principals for effective delivery of instruction, use of curriculum, guidance activities, and staff supervision as well as supervising home education, integrating technology and managing student assessment programs. These activities will put her in daily contact with administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals and students from elementary through high school, a real opportunity for the district to use her strengths to improve our support of academic success throughout the district.
What these two appointments mean is opening searches for a new assistant principal and principal for the elementary schools. As in past searches, I will not be making this decision in isolation but rather taking much input from screening committees composed of many different individuals to ensure the most well rounded review of our potential candidates. We are already in the midst of the search for a new elementary assistant principal and have narrowed the pool of 32 very qualified applicants to 6 applicants. I hope to post for the elementary principal’s position in early April and will be looking for various individuals from throughout the Gateway community to participate in this selection process.
While these changes are significant to the district, they also provide us with experienced individuals in key district leadership roles allowing for a steady continuation of services and allow us to keep proven administrators in the district. This also allows for the infusion of new ideas, energy and talent onto the leadership team by finding highly qualified and talented individuals to replace those administrators moving up the leadership ladder. Much research shows that these two items are necessary for an entity’s success—keeping experienced and highly qualified individuals while also infusing new blood into the organizational structure. I know we are losing some outstanding individuals to retirements but I’m confident in their replacements and, looking at the pool of applicants for the open positions, confident that we’ll find outstanding new talent to fill all of our positions.