School to review applicants for principal

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— The Steamboat Springs School District has four applicants for the vacant principal's position at Soda Creek Elementary School.

Friday was the deadline to receive applications for the position, which opened when Cherryl Sage resigned last month.

District officials will begin screening the applications Monday.

The process of choosing a new principal for the elementary school mirrors the process of choosing any administrator in the school district, Superintendent Cyndy Simms said.

A small group of carefully selected parents, teachers, administrators, directors and the superintendent will gather Monday to review and personally score each application.

From that point, the same group will conclude the paper screening to decide which applicants to interview. The group could also decide to extend the process and seek more applicants.

"We also have to look at are there qualified candidates?" Simms said. "We paper screen pretty tightly."

The tentative date to start interviewing is July 3.

The initial day of the interview process begins with a panel of teachers and parents.

Parents who were interested in being on the panel had to contact Dawn Gordon, chair of the Soda Creek parent information committee.

Simms chose the teachers on the panel.

"They create questions ahead of time and ask the (applicant) in a consistent manner. It's a very careful procedure because we want to give each (applicant) the same opportunity to respond," Simms said.

Following the parent/teacher interview, the applicants then move to a panel of administrators and directors to observe how well they work with others.

"They'll see if they have budget skills, if they've dealt with bus discipline issues or if they seem to support our K-12 philosophy," Simms said. The third interview process places each applicant in a room with Simms.

"I'm looking for a well-rounded instructor who truly enjoys working with children and with people associated with children," Simms said.

Simms said key elements she is looking for in a principal are a strong curriculum background, training and experience with elementary school children and strong decision-making skills.

"They (need to be) primo instructional leaders," Simms said. "Also, what is important to them in regards (to) public education? Why are they devoted to public education?"

Ideally, the school district would prefer applicants have experience as an assistant principal or former principal in another district, but that is not required, Simms said.

The fourth, and last, component of the interview process requires a writing sample on a hypothetical scenario. Applicants will be scored on grammar, punctuation, content and presentation.

"A principal has to have those skills. This is an insight into individual candidates," Simms said.

The school district began searching for a new principal at Soda Creek after Sage announced her resignation May 23.

Parents and a teacher claimed at a May 11 school board meeting that staff morale had been dropping under Sage's leadership and that the principal's management style was chaffing the staff.

Simms said the agitated sequence of events leading to Sage's resignation has taught teachers, parents, administrators and herself a lesson.

"Every experience helps all of us to grow," she said. "The experience at Soda Creek has been helpful to all of us."

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