New principal at Hamilton

This was posted within another thread, but just so it is clear: Katie Cryan Leary, the principal at Hamilton International Middle School is taking leave. The role of principal at Hamilton will be filled by Chris Carter, now of the African-American Academy. Mr. Carter will not be assigned to Jane Addams.

Official letters on the topic -

One from Ms Leary:
Dear Hamilton International Middle School community members,

This morning I announced to my staff that I have been granted a leave for the 2009/10 school year and that I will not be returning as principal at Hamilton.

My decision to leave the Hamilton community was a difficult one to make, and was based primarily on personal family reasons. I am proud of the learning community that we have developed together and will miss working amongst the students and staff of Hamilton every day.

I am very pleased that Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson has decided to appoint Mr. Chris Carter as my replacement. (see letter attached) I am confident that he will be able to effectively lead the Hamilton community.

Mr. Carter will be able to spend some time getting to know Hamilton this spring, but will be focused on his current commitment to the African American Academy community as well. Please know that I am committed to a smooth transition of leadership and to working with Mr. Carter to ensure the future success of Hamilton International Middle School.

Katie Cryan Leary

And this one from the Superintendent:

May 15, 2009

Dear staff, students, and families of Hamilton International Middle School:

I am pleased to announce that Mr. Chris Carter has been appointed principal at Hamilton Middle School, effective July 1, 2009.

We believe that Mr. Carter’s extensive classroom and school experience and his strong educational leadership make him an excellent match for the Hamilton learning community. He has worked in Seattle Public Schools as a principal, teacher and educator for nine years and is committed to academic success for all children.

Mr. Carter’s expertise, experience and knowledge of the middle school learning environment make him an excellent match with the Hamilton school community. Possessing a pragmatic instructional philosophy focused on excellence and achievement, he has worked in Seattle Public Schools as both a principal and a teacher. Mr. Carter has taught at the elementary and middle school grades and is a data-driven, collaborative educator looking forward to working with the Hamilton learning community.

Before his appointment to the African American Academy, Mr. Carter served as assistant principal at Pacific Middle School in the Highline School District, was a house administrator and teacher at Mercer Middle School in Seattle and also taught at Horace Mann Elementary School in Long Beach, California. Mr. Carter, who comes from a family of educators, has an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Washington, holds a masters degree in teaching from City University and a principal’s certificate from Western Washington University.

Ms. Katie Cryan Leary, your current principal, has been granted a leave, starting July 1, 2009. Ms. Cryan Leary has been an effective leader for your school and I want to take this opportunity to thank her for her commitment to students, staff and families.

I especially appreciate the positive learning community that you have built at Hamilton Middle School, and look forward to continued success for all students.


Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D.


Danny K said…
Wasn't Mr. Carter supposed to be going to work at the new school in the Summit building? Or was that last month's plan? I don't know much about him, but he's been principal of the A.A.A. for two years now so there should be some sort of track record. He came to AAA with a great reputation, it should be said.

I must say, the pace of change over this year has been breathtaking -- not only are we splitting, closing, merging and creating schools all over the district, laying off teachers and picking a fight with the teacher's union, but also switching administrators out right and left. I wonder if there's a reason for this latest change beyond something personal and mundane, but I don't think we'll be told that unless somebody leaks it.

The constant churn and lack of transparency has had a numbing effect on many of the parents I know -- they just shake their heads and say, "That's the school system for you!" But patience is wearing thin.
ParentofThree said…
I wonder if there are other principal assignments, aren't Whittier and TOPS are both waiting announcements of appointments.

And I thought there were hiring committees at schools? Is that a process that has been eliminated?
anonymous said…
I feel for the Hamilton community. This is a time of major transition for them. Not only are they getting the MS APP program, they are getting a new music program, they are moving, and they are discontinuing busing of south end students (2010/11).

Transitions like these are difficult under the best of circumstances. I would imagine having a new leader who is unfamiliar with the school, and with APP, will make it even more difficult.

I spoke with a friend today who tells me that Addams has budgeted for 300 students. There is hardly need for two principals at Addams with this type of enrollment. So I can see why Carter was moved.
Charlie Mas said…
More movement:

Jo Shapiro, principal at McGilvra, is re-assigned to an assistant principal job at Hamilton.

I don't know what this means for the current assistant principal at Hamilton, Jesely Alvarez.

See letter to the McGilvra community:


May 15, 2009

Dear McGilvra,

Recently I had the unpleasant duty of writing you to let you know about recent changes affecting the McGilvra community, namely that three valued members of our teaching staff have received RIF notices and, as things currently stand, may not be rejoining us in the fall. Now I need to inform you of yet another change, one that I deeply wish were not timed to reach you on the heels of yesterday's announcement, and that is that this year will be my last year at McGilvra. I have been assigned to be an assistant principal at Hamilton Middle School.

I have now been at McGilvra for ten years, which by today's standards is a long term to serve as a principal at a single school. I am very fortunate to have been at McGilvra for the past decade. I have been privileged to work as part of an extraordinary community of educators, support staff, students, and parents. It is my firm belief that McGilvra is one of the gems in the Seattle Public School system, which in no small measure is a reflection of the dedicated efforts of the entire McGilvra community. I am confident that in the years to come McGilvra will continue to thrive as an exemplary school that provides for the needs of its students superlatively well.

But there comes a time for every principal to move on. For some time now I have considered returning, as an assistant principal, to a middle school environment. Before becoming an administrator, I was a math teacher and math department head at a Seattle middle school. So when I learned of this opportunity at Hamilton, I was excited by the challenge it offered.

My years at McGilvra have meant a lot to me. I have had the opportunity to work with extraordinary educators and support staff to meet the needs of a wonderful group of students. I also was very fortunate to be able to work with as strong and caring a parental support group as any principal could wish for. I shall miss McGilvra greatly and will carry something of McGilvra with me as I move on to new challenges. Please know that I will be available to assist your new principal in every way I can so that the transition will take place as smoothly as possible.

I sincerely thank you for your tremendous support, your extraordinary kindness and the wonderful friendships among us that have developed over the years. Without doubt, I will miss you all.

With best wishes for the future,

Jo Shapiro
Jennifer said…
Principals & assistant principals are being assigned this year. No school based interview team, this is a change. Assignments went out to most this week.
ParentofThree said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
ParentofThree said…
"Addams has budgeted for 300 students."

And Summit is currently 532, so remind me again, why did Summit need to be closed?
Johnny Calcagno said…
My son just brought home a letter announcing that Ms. Jo Lute-Ervin has been appointed principal of TOPS. She has been the principal of Leschi Elementary for the last nine years.

I'm not sure why Board Policy C54.00 on Alternative Education (section 2), which specifies community input for Principal selection, is being violated.
Central Mom said…
In light of Maureen and Johnny's notice of Board Policy C54, is there a way to formally protest...and more importantly effectively change...the non-involvement of parents in the TOPS principal appointment?
Charlie Mas said…
SPSMOm wrote:
""Addams has budgeted for 300 students."

And Summit is currently 532, so remind me again, why did Summit need to be closed?

Summit needed to be closed because it was not making efficient use of the building. It had too much excess capacity.

Obviously, at 300, Jane Addams will have even more excess capacity than Summit had, but district officials expect that Jane Addams K-8 will come to outdraw Summit within a few short years and do it with lower transportation costs.
Central Mom said…
And...just 300 students choosing Jane Addams? That's breathtaking in its nonsuccess to alleviate the NE crowding issue. Will mandi-assignments be the next step? Curious!
Charlie Mas said…
To be honest, the meaning of Policy C54.00 is unclear. Is it descriptive or proscriptive? Does it mean to describe alternative schools - is is just listing some typical characteristics? Or does it mandate these characteristics as a matter of policy? I'm not sure.

The Board should decide. Let's bring it to their attention that the assignment of a principal to TOPS without the community's participation in the decision may be a violation of the Policy.
Charlie Mas said…
I can't help noticing that a lot of the principals who are moving are from schools that were involved in the Capacity Management Project and have been leading Design Teams and making final decisions about schools despite the fact that they won't be there to live with their decisions.

Hamilton is having a busy design team discussion about integrating APP, but now they are getting a new principal and a new assistant principal. What decisions did Ms Leary make that Mr. Carter is going to have to live with?

Leschi is having a busy design team discussion about integrating a Montessori program, but now they are getting a new principal.
Charlie Mas said…
Linda Robinson was announced as the new principal at Whittier.
ParentofThree said…
"officials expect that Jane Addams K-8 will come to outdraw Summit within a few short years."

Let's just say "what if" for a moment. "What if the school never breaks 500?"

Then what? i.e. what is the backup plan if this school does not draw families in the next three years?
Unknown said…
I believe that Hamilton will have a large enough population to require 2 assistant principals.
Unknown said…
Wayne Floyd (interim principal at Cleveland) was appointed principal at Loyal Heights today, and Cashel Toner was moved to Leschi Elementary.
TechyMom said…
Oh dear, that is indeed bad news for TOPS. Leschi is a dismal place. When I toured, there was a kid being disciplined outside nearly every classroom and a Spectrum teacher yelling "shut your mouth!" at a group of students. Other students, in uniforms, were marching in line, and standing in another line to use the bathroom. There's no art, no language, no after school classes. The principal didn't bother to show up for the tour, and I've heard from others who've met her that she didn't have much to say about her program. I've heard more than one person say they cried after touring Leschi.

I did like the head teacher who did the tour, and the choir program looked interesting.

And TOPS was my #1 choice too. sigh.
Beth Bakeman said…
From my perspective, the Design Teams were a waste of time and an insincere public relations gesture by the district to provide the illusion of public input with no budget or decision-making authority given to the teams.

So I'm not sure it matters too much whether the principals on those teams leave those schools or not.
anonymous said…
When we were looking at schools for our son entering kindergarten we tried to tour Leschi, but back then, under Jo Lute-Ervin, Leschi didn't even offer tours. Every other school in the cluster did.

We asked if we could just walk around the school, which seemed to perplex the office staff, as if it was the first they'd heard someone ask such a thing, but they did agree to allow us. We left shaken at the thought of our child going to the school.

We witnessed a teacher screaming at her class, and when she saw us, she got up and slammed the door in our face. We also saw kids lined up everywhere. And, on the playground we saw eyebrow raising behavior and heard offensive conversation, cursing, and bullying.

It was through and through appalling.

I understand more currently that this is the only school that had a Spectrum class who did below average on the WASL. Hmmmm.

Let me qualify and say that my experience at the school was almost 9 years ago, and the school may very well have changed since then, but the leadership has not.
TechyMom said…
No, that sounds a lot like what I saw when I toured a couple months ago.
TechyMom said…
I guess in the silver-lining department this might be good news for Leschi. Any word on who the new principal there will be? I don't suppose the Madrona principal is being moved/replaced?
Johnny Calcagno said…
I heard tonight that the Blaine K-8 "community" does have some sort of input into their Principal choice. Anybody know anything about that?
anonymous said…
Since she can't be fired, it may be a good idea to move Jo Lute-Ervin to a well established school, with a lot of parent involvement like TOPS. She won't be able to run TOPS into the ground. The parents simply won't stand for it.
Charlie Mas said…
Please do not underestimate the damage that a bad manager can do in any situation.
SolvayGirl said…
adhoc—don't be so optimistic. Sending shoddy principals to strong schools is the District's MO. Believe me, as someone who has lived through it, it can very easily destroy a good school, unless the parents and staff push back hard. That process is about as unpleasant a task as I have ever gone through and I would never want to do it again.

The process of "musical principals" is one of the main reasons my family has lost its faith in the public school system. All the talk on these blogs about how people need to move to where the good schools are is just bunk. As long as SPS retains and redistributes terrible principals, ANY school can become a dismal place. Combined with everything else this District does, I just cannot take my chances of which chair, if any, I will have when the music stops.
Jet City mom said…
district officials expect that Jane Addams K-8 will come to outdraw Summit within a few short years and do it with lower transportation costs.Do tell-
do they plan to be more supportive of the new program in the Jane Addams building than they were of Summit?
hschinske said…
"She won't be able to run TOPS into the ground. The parents simply won't stand for it."

You know, years ago Greg Imel said he was leaving Whittier because he thought it would get by fine with any principal, and he wanted to be someplace where he could do more good. As far as I can tell, Whittier, despite many excellent staff and involved parents, has struggled to some extent ever since. ALL schools need good leadership.

Helen Schinske
zb said…
"ALL schools need good leadership."

True, especially when it comes to the treatment of the staff. We hear a lot of stuff about after school programs, and enrichment classes, and the like. Absence of those might be annoying, and their inclusion a bonus. But, it's the classroom teacher who maters, and if a manager isn't managing the teachers (or actively makes their life difficult), the school will indeed run into the ground. Parents have limited ability to intervene in that interaction, too, since they aren't privy to personnel issues.
suep. said…
Is it my imagination, or is Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson and the district specifically moving principals from stuggling, failing or closing schools to run the strong, alternative and APP schools? How does this make sense? Are questionable perfomances being rewarded with plum positions? Is this some kind of appeasement? Is this an effort to weaken strong schools for some reason? Why don't parents--the primary stakeholders--have some say in all this?

June 3 is the Superintendent's Annual Evaluation. Maybe we all should speak up.
It's interesting from my viewpoint because most of the high schools (the strong ones at least) would put up with an permanent appointment for a principal. Between the staff and the parents, it wouldn't happen. The district did sort of try with Garfield (allowing a whole process with staff and parents to happen and then promptly picking someone other than the candiate the committee selected)but backpedalled.

I say that with no sense of self-importance for the high schools but simply because of the sheer numbers of staff a principal has to work with and the numbers of parents who see the high school years as critical to getting into college and the workforce.

The Superintendent does have the the final word on who goes where but it's not a game of chess nor should it be a case of "it's a good school, let's cross our fingers it'll turn out okay".
(Always proofread: that first sentence should say: NEVER put up with an appointed permanent principal.)
I've got to admit I'm confused. The kids at Hamilton were told that Katie Cryan was leaving due to personal, family reasons. But do you think she was actually forced out by the district (in favor of installing Chris Carter at Hamilton)?

I think the Hamilton community should know the truth, whether or not we can do anything about it.
ParentofThree said…
In years past no school had to "put up" with a principal appointments. Skirting school hiring committees is a new practice this year. Since no high schools need principals assigned we cannot say for sure what would have happened in that case. But I am betting any highschool needing a principal would have simply been appointed to the school.
Teresa said…
All of the intelligence and vision is right here, and none of it is in MG-J's office. This woman, with the perplexing complicity of the board, is running the district straight into the ground. Do we really have to just watch it happen and analyze it here? This is about the lives and futures of kids and families, and even the culture of the city itself. Would it make sense to organize a large-scale demonstration, perhaps to coincide with her evaluation, as gavroche mentioned? Or would it make sense to mobilize another way to send her packing? WE NEED SOMEONE ELSE. Desperately.
owlhouse said…
I'm with you, Teresa and gavroche. We've had a series of decisions, maybe good/maybe bad, definitely disruptive, announced unframed by any meaningful vision of SPS. We have district leadership that is a not sensitive to family needs, selectively follows "best practices", and does not work in partnership with the community they are meant to serve.

As my teen said this morning, "they just keep throwing things around- like the want us to stay disorientated."

I'd say organized parent action/reaction is due.
dan dempsey said…
Since she can't be fired, it may be a good idea to move Jo Lute-Ervin to a well established school, with a lot of parent involvement like TOPS.Why not fired? Is there a law or union specification?

Look at the Susan Durse saga of disappointing secondary school principal-ship.

I believe she left Garfield ... appointed to West Seattle High (not selected) ... medical leave .. then on to the Center school for a month or two and then the JSCEE.
Anonymous said…
what is the scoop on Chris Carter - any feedback on how he'd fare at handling Hamilton as it goes thru the transition of new student body (via the new assignment guidelines) and absorbing programs like APP, etc? Does he have any background in International or APP curriculum and/or hiring/managing teachers in this realm? I had never heard of him till just now, my kids currently in 4th gr. and could potentially end up at Hamilton.
seattlemama said…
What a slap in the face when my son, a K student at Loyal Heights, brought home a letter from Goodloe-Johnson informing the staff and families of Loyal Heights that a new principal, Wayne Floyd, had been appointed.
The most frustrating aspect of this letter has to be the first line, "I am pleased to announce that Mr. Wayne Floyd has been appointed principal at Loyal Heights Elementary, effective July 1, 2009."
What?!! "Pleased to announce"?!! Well, so great that you are pleased, Superintendent, but because this decision was made with ABSOLUTELY NO INPUT from parents or staff, no one else in this community is pleased. All we know about this man is that he has been an educator for 31 years, has been an assistant principal, dean of students, or teacher at Cleveland, Garfield, and Wing Luke Elementary School (for one year).Yes, only one year of experience at the elementary level, and no elementary teaching experience, which to me is essential.
The current principal, Cashel Toner, had only been at L.H. for one year, but seemed to be a fabulous fit for the community. She is young, energetic, enthusiastic, very open to suggestions, really seemed to have a clear vision as to the direction she wanted to see the school go, lives in the neighborhood, etc, etc. This may ruffle some feathers, but my experience as a middle school teacher has been that those who have been in the professsion for 30 plus years tend not to have the aforementioned qualities including enthusiasm, willingness to listen and respond to concerns and suggestions, an understanding of best practices and how best to implement them, how to work with a staff to develop cohesion and a shared vision.
Yes, I know, I need to give this man I have never met and know little about a chance. I just honestly am in shock that a principal that was such a good fit for our school would be removed seemingly out of the blue with no warning, and no opportunity for those invested in the school to give input in her replacement.
It really does look to me, as other posters have mentioned, that this is an example of the district taking a principal, who is experiencing success at her current school, and throwing her to a school that sounds as if it has profound problems.
I can't think of a better way to alienate and anger parents.
Thank you for allowing me to vent!
ParentofThree said…
Wow, that Loyal Hieghts story is unbelievable.

Thanks for posting.
momster said…
seattlemama - did you say where principal cashel toner is going?
NE Parent said…
In terms of Jane Addams filling, I just heard from a current parent at a Northeast elementary school that, district-wide, 500 more kindergarten students enrolled for next year than expected. She had not heard of the particular geographic distribution of these children, but said that they are supposedly going to have SIX kindergarten classes at Jane Addams this fall. Obviously, those would include a large number of mandatory assignments.

(And I'm not sure how she obtained this information. It was a quick conversation, but she is generally a reliable source of information).
suep. said…
I heard something similar from a teacher, who heard it thru the grapevine-- an unexpected influx of kindergarteners for next year. Why is SPS so lousy at forecasting -- and being prepared for -- demographic trends? Meanwhile SPS is closing schools in the Central District (TTMinor and NOVA, for example) when demographic trends predict an INCREASE in population, including kids, in the CD.
suep. said…
Whoops -- serious mistake in my last post. SPS is not closing NOVA High School, it is closing the building, and moving NOVA to Meany Middle School, a seismically unsafe building that is not equipped for high schoolers and will not have the science labs promised to NOVA, nor enough room for the kids, to be co-housed with SBOC (whom, by the way, the district promised to never co-house and to whom the district promised its own better, building, but that money went to the neverending Garfield project), and who have been told they must pack up their school right now before the year has even ended. So, no, the district is not technically closing NOVA, but it is doing seemingly everything else it can think of to cripple it.
seattlemama said…
The current Loyal Heights principal is going to Leschi.
suep. said…
Here's what the Supt. and district are doing -- I've just figured it out: they are stacking the south/central part of the district with some of the best principals and programs in an attempt to fulfill the Southeast Initiative, but they are doing it by taking away from other schools and kids. APP is injected into Thurgood Marshall, SBOC money is diverted to Garfield, TTMinor's successful Montessori program AND Loyal Heights' principal are moved to Leschi. etc. (Why is Leschi worth investing in more than TTMinor? How much more money is the district planning to throw into the money pit of Garfield? Why is it okay for the district to treat APP kids as useful commodities at its disposal?) What I can't tell is whether the district and Supt. are spreading the wealth -- or masking mediocrity. (I believe that much of this mediocrity comes from the district's mismanagement of resources -- not the valiant teachers and vulnerable kids whose needs are not being met by all these cynical shell games.)
anonymous said…
Wow, Jane Addams only budgeted for 4 kindergarten classrooms. Where did you hear they have 6? Can they accomodate 6 K classes? Do they have 6 k teachers ready to teach?

And what happens if they only get (6) 2nd grade students or (3) 7th grade students? Will they still have a 7th grade class?
owlhouse said…
Not about principals- but is it really possible that the alternative school audit will start Monday?? Anyone have information?
Stu said…
This is all nothing new . . .

There was an interesting discussion about how the district ignored policy, what a surprise, back in 2007. This isn't new to this particular Superintendent; the district likes to make promises that are kept when it's convenient.
momster said…
thanks seattlemama - imho, cashel toner moving to leschi is a great thing for leschi (though a bummer for loyal heights and tops, it sounds like).

cashel toner has several years of teaching montessori (a program which leschi is getting by way of mlk and ttminor)- and while she doesn't have a ton of administrative experience yet, she has worked with some of the best and has been a head teacher as well as having the one year at loyal hgts.

she is young but extremely capable and professional and could be a great draw not only for the families already at leschi (in montessori and otherwise) but the many families that have fled to private school from that neighborhood.

i think this is not an accident or some random decision by sps.

one of the problems with all of this is that the pool of principals is small, and when you allow for moves they make for personal reasons (especially when they leave the system as katie cryan leary is), it can disrupt the entire system.

they also willingly apply for openings at other schools, such as the mcgilvra principal seems to have.

add the union protections afforded principals from closed schools - it's no wonder this is going to be a year for huge change at the principal level.
ParentofThree said…
"add the union protections afforded principals from closed schools'

But I have yet to see one principal assignment, other than Chris Carter assigned. How could the Leshi principal get assigned to TOPS given that there are at least 3 other principals from closed schools.

Where are these principals:

TT Minor, Meany, Summit and Cooper.
TechyMom said…
Greg King from tt minor is at Lowell next year.
Charlie Mas said…
It looks to me like we need another thread to catalog and discuss all of these principal moves.

There are three concerns with the principal moves that I have heard:

1) Lack of community input on the decisions. With the added bonus of a possible policy violation with the lack of community participation in the case of TOPS, an alternative school.

2) Several of the schools involved in the principal moves have design teams. What was the role of the design teams in these personnel changes and does this reveal the whole design team process to be a public relations sham.

3) Questionable motivations behind the principal moves. Is there an effort to move strong principals to weak schools and weak principals to strong schools. Why should ANY school have a weak principal?

Are there other concerns or topics worthy of discussion?

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