Parent input requested as hiring process continues for Ed Smith principal vacancy

Dear Listserv Recipients: With Principal Hall’s retirement fast approaching, the Syracuse City School District has begun the interview process for her replacement. SCSD Superintendent Ms. Sharon Contreras personally checks and responds to her e-mails, and has always welcomed parental input on a wide variety of matters. As effective leadership in any organization is so necessary, this is an opportunity for parents, guardians and community members to e-mail her directly with any thoughts or ideas about what type of skill set will be important within a school as diverse as ours. This is also an opportunity to share a little bit about the culture and climate at Ed. Smith, including our successes and also areas that require improvement. *Ms. Contreras can be e-mailed directly at the following address: SContreras [at] scsd [dot] us. For some of us, beginning the writing process can be daunting, and it helps to have a few key concepts to draw from (please feel free to liberally borrow from the text below). At yesterday’s PTO meeting, members (including Principal Hall) brainstormed about the qualities an effective leader will need in a K-8 school such as Edward Smith. Below were just a few of our thoughts:

* Excellent Communications Skills-The incoming Principal should be able to effectively communicate with staff, parents, and students in a timely manner to ensure that the daily operations of the school run smoothly, staff and students are supported, discipline issues addressed, and parental involvement encouraged. Part of being an excellent communicator is the ability to listen, problem solve, and seek assistance and provide feedback as needed.

* Experience dealing with two separate entities: the elementary school and the middle school: While a K-8 experience can be wonderfully unique, it can also be administratively complicated as Principal Hall can attest. An incoming Principal should be well-versed in both elementary and middle school issues; whether it’s curriculum, discipline challenges, and varying communication needs arising from scheduling and, in the case of the middle school, the important transition to high school.

* Commitment to Special Education: Inclusion is a big part of our school programming and many of our students have I.E.P.’s (Individual Education Plan). For some children, an I.E.P. might include specialized services such as Speech, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. For other students with a Learning Disability such as dyslexia, an I.E.P. may be comprised of services allowing longer time frames to complete tests/homework, a modified curriculum, or having portions of class work read to him or her. Our next Principal will need to be well-versed in Special Education Law, and ensure that staff and parents are educated so that I.E.P.’s are consistently followed (as these plans are legally binding).

* Building Maintenance: A safe, clean, well-maintained building is a priority as our staff and students should be able to teach and learn in a safe and comfortable environment. As we are an old building, maintaining working toilets, sinks, and faucets are a constant maintenance issue, and will continue to be an issue when a new principal assumes leadership in the fall. Strong advocacy to ensure that the school facilities group promptly address concerns as they arise must be a continued goal.

* Advocacy: The incoming Principal should, without a doubt, be an advocate for his or her staff, the students, the building (hint: advocate for a renovation sooner than later), and be comfortable reaching out to the larger community to ensure that Ed. Smith provides the best educational experience for our students. Please consider e-mailing Ms. Contreras if you would like to lend your voice to the parents who have already shared ideas and thoughts during this critical period. Again, the ideas above are not all-inclusive, and we are sure we may have missed a key point or two. This is why we need everyone’s input, as we are all stakeholders in this most important arena: a quality education for all of our students. Regards, The Edward Smith PTO

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