New Principal Review

There are a lot of new principals out there. How are they working out? If your school got a new principal this year or last year let us know how well that new leader has assimilated into the existing school culture, how the new principal has changed the culture of the school, and how the leadership change has impacted teacher, staff, student, and family morale?

Here's a list from an earlier post. It may need some updating or editing to be made right, so let me know and I'll fix it.

Roy Merca from Summit to AS1
Ernie Severs from AS1 to Sanislo
Debbie Nelson from Sanislo to Jane Addams
Chris Carter from Jane Addams to Hamilton
Katie Cryan Leary from Hamilton to Leave

Dewanda Cook-Weaver from Lowell (SpEd) to McGilvra
Jo Shapiro from McGilvra to Assistant Principal at Hamilton

Wayne Floyd from JSCEE (he was working on the Southeast Initiative) to Loyal Heights
Cashel Toner from Loyal Heights to Leschi
Joanne Hill from Alki to Leave
Clover Codd from Leave to Alki
Jo Lute-Ervin from Leschi to TOPS
Clara Scott from TOPS to retirement

Mia Williams from Aki Kurose (interim) to Aki Kurose (permanent)
Kim Fox from Bryant (interim) to Bryant (permanent)

Linda Robinson from Bryant to Whittier
Cothron McMillian from Whittier to Brighton
Beverly Raines from Brighton to Lawton
Ed Noh from Lawton to... ???

Greg King from T T Minor to Lowell
Julie Briedenbach from Lowell to Thurgood Marshall
Winifred Todd from Thurgood Marshall to Dunlap
Greg Imel from Dunlap to Bailey Gatzert
Norma Zavala from Bailey Gatzert to Concord
Sandra Scott from Concord to Hawthorne
Sumiko Huff from Hawthorne to... ???

Stacey McCrath-Smith from Meany to... ???


Gouda said…
Sumiko Huff is the Academic Director at Rainier Scholars.
dan dempsey said…
Hey Don't forget Susan Durse at the JSCEE she is a Principal and works at JSCEE.... I think she had something to do with Cleveland STEM and the $800,000 contract for NTN .... how is that working OUT?
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
Dr. Jill Hudson moved from Madison to Hale.

She seems to be doing great at Hale and has settled in well. She's tough, but only because she really cares deeply about the kids that she is serving, and I think the kids feel that.

She considers herself the head teacher and spends most of her day sitting in on classes, which as a parent, I really value. And she is not afraid to make changes, or stand up to a staff that has been used to doing things "their way" for a long time. Nor is she afraid to stand up to the students, as witnessed when she cancelled all school dances (including the prom) due to inapprpriate behavior. Update: ASB worked with the students to come up appropriate behavior guidelines and a commitment to follow them from students and Dr. Hudson approved it. Dances ate reinstated at Hale. The first one was two weeks ago and it was a huge success!

Also, Dr Hudson does not seem opposed to growing the school as principals in the past have been, nor is she opposed to growing the AP course selection. She does however fully support the incluseive honors classes (a huge point of contension for some families)

The only issue I had hoped she would tackle (but hasn't as of yet) is security. It's still sorely lacking at Hale, and lunch time is the worst with only one lunch shift (1200 teenagers to 2 security guards). Perhaps she'll get to this??

Overall I like her and so does my child. I think she was a good fit Hale, and I think Hale is very lucky to have her.
Ananda said…
Some of this isn't quite accurate. Linda Robison didn't go from Bryant to Whittier, she took a year leave and was appointed to Whittier when she came back. Stacey Smith is a Special Ed Supervisor (she was in Special Ed before she was a principal), and Dewanda Cook Weaver is already gone from McGilvra. Susan Derse is an interim principal at Interageny.
dan dempsey said…

Great Job in updating the current document.

seattle citizen said…
Sully, thank you -
Yours is the only comment about Dr Hudson I can go by, and I don't know her (so maybe there are other opinions or facts that contradict yours)but your description of what you perceive to be her characteristics is one of the most detailed, helpfully detailed, overviews of principal qualities I've ever read.

You looked at about seven or so of the areas we want a principal to be acting in, and within each described your interpretation of the facts on the ground and the prncipal's part in it. We are free to imagine other perspectives, or other possible actions of a principal in those various sphere's on influence, but you've made us think about each of these important areas.
Thanks! I hope that I can only approach that level of qualitative analysis in my comments...

...because WV thinks I'm a brato.
seattle said…
Next Year SPS has eliminated the Dean of Student position at Nathan Hale HS, and has allotted them two Assistant Principals instead.

The current Dean of students was not moved into one of the new Assistant Principal positions, nor is he in the candidate pool as he does not posess the minimum qualifications for the position.

The Nathan Hale PTSA wrote a 4 paragragh letter to Dr. Enfeild and MGJ on behalf of the entire Nathan Hale parent community. The first sentence read "As parents at Nathan Hale High School, we ask that our current Dean of Students, ******, be placed in one of the two open Assistant Principals positions". The following paragraphs supported and detailed this request. It was signed by the President of the Nathan Hale PTSA.

The problem is that the PTSA wrote this letter on behalf of the entire NH parent community without one ounce of community engagment. They never even brought the issue to the parents attention. Nothing about it was posted in the school newspaper or on the school website. The PTSA did not send home letters, or surveys, nor did they take any polls. Nor was there a parent meetings. How can a 7 person PTSA write a letter on behalf of 1250 families that they never even communicated with?

If they had engaged the community they would find that the Dean was not a very popular administrator and that many families did did not feel that he was very effective.

How can a PTSA write a letter on behalf of an entire school community without one ounce of community engagement?

Is it just me or does that seems like an abuse of power?
Unknown said…
Hale Parent,

In some ways, it depends on how the letter was written. As you quoted it below, it is accurate, in that the people signing the letter are parents at NH. While it may imply wider support for the position taken in the letter, it doesn't say that specifically.

That said, yes there should have been more outreach, especially if the letter identified the signers as the PTA Board. If nothing else, the PTA should probably have told parents what was happening to the Dean/Asst Principal positions and seen what informal feedback they got.

On the other hand, if they didn't identify themselves as the PTA Board, then they are just parents writing a letter to the District about what they want. I can't see any harm in that.

The cynic in me says that the District usually seems to ignore any parent feedback anyway, so there's no power to abuse.
seattle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said…
Well of course there is no harm in a letter sent by a parent. But this letter was an official letter sent from the NH PTSA to Dr. Enfield and Maria GJ.

It was signed as follows:


Persons Name
President, Nathan Hale PTSA
gavroche said…
Here's a related re-post of mine with some updates:

Principal shuffles on Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson’s watch:

May 2009: Roy Merca from Summit (closed) to AS1, Ernie Severs from AS1 to Sanislo, Debbie Nelson from Sanislo to Jane Addams, Chris Carter from African American Academy (closed) to Jane Addams to Hamilton Middle School, Dewanda Cook-Weaver from Lowell to McGilvra Elem. to ??, Jo Shapiro from McGilvra Elem. to assistant principal at Hamilton Middle School, Wayne Floyd from John Stanford Center central office to Loyal Heights, Cashel Toner from Loyal Heights to Leschi Elem., Jo Lute-Ervin from Leschi to TOPS, Linda Robinson from Bryant to Whittier, Cothron McMillian from Whittier to Brighton, Ed Noh from Lawton to Hawaii?; Beverly Raines from Brighton Elem. to Lawton Elem. to early retirement?, Gregory King from TT Minor (closed) to Lowell, Julie Briedenbach from Lowell Elem. to Thurgood Marshall Elem., Winifred Todd from Thurgood Marshall to Dunlap, Greg Imel from Dunlap to Bailey Gatzert, Norma Zavala from Bailey Gatzert to Concord, Sandra Scott from Concord to Hawthorne, Stacey McCrath-Smith was moved from Meany.
July 2009: Jill Hudson to Nathan Hale High School, Henterson Carlisle assigned interim principal of Madison Middle School.
Jan 2010: Kaaren Andrews from Madrona K-8 to the Interagency School, Cheryl Grinager from Green Lake Elementary to McDonald Elem. (to be reopened), David Elliott from Coe Elem to Old Hay (to be reopened as Queen Anne Elem.)
Dan Warren from John Hay to Sand Point (to be reopened).
Feb/March 2010: DeWanda Cook-Weaver from McGilvra to ??, Beverly Raines from Lawton to early retirement.
Clover Codd made interim principal at Alki for the 09-10 school year. (according to reader Yumpears)

(Of these, I believe only one replaced a retiring principal, Clara Scott from TOPS, and one who went on leave on her own accord, Katie Cryan Learie from Hamilton, and then two who may have been forced out: D. Cook-Weaver and B. Raines)

Sources: Seattle Times, Seattle Public Schools, and Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.
whittier07 said…
Whittier is very fortunate to have Linda Robinson as our principal! She is both a fantastic leader and person - warm, honest, hard working, engaging ... I could go on & on! :)
Sahila said…
@ Hale Parent....

I often wonder about who speaks for whom within a school community also...

I'd been looking for schools where governance was a partnership between parents-community, students, teachers, principal-admin... Seattle alternative schools are supposed to have that under Policy C54...

AS#1 had that going - too messy and ineffective some would say - until SPS imposed BLTs (which took away most of the power of site councils) and 'restructured' the school, to the extent that teachers and the new principal (assigned without community input) met over the 2009 summer vacation and rewrote the school's mission and values statements...

I took my child to a Shoreline alternative school (not very alternative at all actually)... Its run by a community representative body and has a PTA... the community representative body is not very representative either and routinely speaks/acts for the entire community without a lot of engagement...

I've questioned that and gotten nowhere fast... lots of agreement/support from other parents "off camera", so-to-speak, but little back-up in public...

One parent said: I'm only here for my child and dont want to get involved, but I cant stand that pack of b*****s that run this school.... (speaking of the almost all female core of people running the show)...

So - no real democratic parental input/influence at the district level, no real democratic parental input in the various lobby groups who are all tied to the big money 'reformers' and no real democratic parental input at individual school levels....

Of the people, By the people, For the people? I dont see it in politics and national/state governance - why we would then expect it elsewhere, I dont know... personally, I think its time for a revolution!!!!!

VERY FUNNY WV = priam... See Wiki for relevence - - consider it an analogy describing our own relationship with SPS Super, Staff and Board as we fight for our childrens' education:

When Hector is killed by Achilles, Achilles treats the body with disrespect and refuses to give it back. Zeus sends the god Hermes to escort King Priam, Hector’s father and the ruler of Troy, into the Greek camp. Priam tearfully pleads with Achilles to take pity on a father bereft of his son and return Hector’s body. He invokes the memory of Achilles’ own father, Peleus. Priam begs Achilles to pity him, saying "I have endured what no one on earth has ever done before — I put my lips to the hands of the man who killed my son".[2]
Hale Parent, very hard to answer you in the big picture. In the real time of the Dean of Students case, the PTSA should not have sent that letter with PTSA on it if they did not have it on the agenda at a meeting and/or surveyed parents and/or put it in the newletter and asked for comments. If they did none of these things, they should not have put any PTSA logo on it. To not go to your membership and/or all Hale parents (because not everyone joins PTSA but are still part of the parent community) was wrong. You could ask why that didn't happen; if you belong to the PTSA, it's your right. If you feel this is an ongoing pattern, talk to the leadership of the Seattle Council PTSA.

As far as PTSA overall, look folks, I have been in PTSA for a long, long time. I have never been at a school yet where we weren't begging parents to join, to volunteer, to give input. Anyone could reach any of the Boards I served on with opinions or ideas. I was actually worried that at Eckstein I might get pushed out by parents who knew each other since their children were in elementary school but it did not happen.

You end up seeing a lot of the same faces because those are the people who step up year after year. That said, all PTSAs should be open to new people on their Boards and new ideas. I have had some ideas dismissed because they were new but I was still able to express them and give others food for thought.

It is sad when a few people take over and act like rulers. I've heard of it happening. But by and large I think most PTSA Boards are just trying as hard as they can and would welcome new faces and new ideas.
Unknown said…
Hale Parent,

OK, I agree that if the letter was on PTSA letterhead, there should have been public engagement. I was just thinking of all of the times I've written the School Board and signed my name as the PTA Legislative Chair. If you're in an advocacy mode, sometimes it's hard to remember that you have to check in with the people you're representing.
Maureen said…
I have been on our Site Council at times when an immediate response was required. At those times we counted on our elected members to have stayed on top of their constituents' opinions and issued letters that made that clear. Site Councils are representative democracies and sometimes have to act as such. I'm not sure how that applies to PTSAs (aren't the board members elected? Don't they at least represent PTSA members?). Obviously, it is always preferable to survey the whole community, but sometimes time constraints make that impossible.
mom of 3 said…
Hale Parent,

To be fair, I think one concern of the PTSA is that both assistant principal positions are to be filled with new people as the current AP is retiring, and that Jill Hudson has only been at Hale for a year. In fact, there have been 5 principals in 8 years at Hale, which is a LOT of turnover, particularly with their very challenging remodel going on.

I think Mr. Linett has been very effective in his work with students and, having been at the school a long time, brings some much needed institutional memory to the administration. Is it the best possible move? I don't know. But I do think the district needs to consider whether the school needs this administrative institutional memory at this time. We've had 3 principals in the 4 years my child has been at Hale, and I have found the turnover wearying.
Ananda said…
No offense, but if someone doesn't have the minimum qualifications for the job, they should either go get them or move on. If the Dean of Students wanted to move up, he should have gotten administrative certification.
Ananda said…
Also, this isn't an SPS move, it is a Hale move. Prior principals and BLTs sought a waiver to the WSS to have a dean instead of an AP. Dr. Hudson and the current BLT must have made the choice to not seek a waiver and instead have two APs.
SolvayGirl said…
Principal churn can be most upsetting to a school—especially when each one wants to remake the school in their own vision. My experience with principal turnover at our public elementary (9 principals—counting interims—in SIX years) was one of the prime reasons we started looking at private schools.

I learned from the experience that a principal can make or break a school and that a parent should never pick a school based solely on the principal.

I noted that a couple of the principals we had in our revolving door years keep moving around the District. Two are on Melissa's list (though from the length of the list, it's hard to see who's NOT on it). Also...did you include the move of Lisa Escobar from Center School to RBHS?
seattle said…
mom of 3 I have been at Hale for a long time too, and I do not like to see principal or admin turn over any more than you do. However, our opinions of the Dean of Students differ. I do not feel that he is effective. Heck, I don't even think he is competent. I'd much rather see a new Assistant principal, who may lack the institutional memory, but be effective, than see the Dean be promoted into a higher position.

However, that was not my point.

My point was that the PTSA chose to write a letter on behalf of an entire community advocating for the Dean to move into the Assistant principal position, without finding out if this is indeed was supported by the community.

The PTSA at Hale does not post an agenda prior to their meetings so parents had no way of knowing this would be discussed (that is if it was discussed at a meeting), nor do they post minutes after their meetings. This information was not shared in a letter, and was not posted on the PTSA website. There was no robocall, or any other way form of communication. Yet, the PTSA felt that they had the right to speak on everyones behalf.

In this case you happen to agree with the content of the letter. What if you didn't? Would you appreciate this action then?
I think that Hale Parent sounds like a good candidate for next year's Hale PTSA President! Being a PTSA President at the high school level is a ton of work, but I'm sure Hale Parent is up for it.

Also -- Chris Carter has been a great addition to Hamilton this year. He has dealt skillfully with our new APP program and music program. And best of all -- he has been thinking and planning for what an International middle school might be. Thank you Mr. Carter! Mr. Carter's work has been especially welcome since the district has done almost nothing to plan for middle or high school international education.
Stu said…
I often wonder about who speaks for whom within a school community also

I felt this was a problem during the APP split discussions last year. When we first heard about it, the Lowell PTA went into it with a "let's make the best out of a bad situation" attitude instead of, what I believe might have been more effective, all guns blazing! Had they been able to rally everyone, perhaps things might have been different. (Remember, along the way, Montlake was going to move into Lowell; THAT community raised such a stink that those plans were gone in a matter of weeks. Of course, neither Hawthorne, Thurgood Marshall, nor TT Minor, had big PTAs to fight . . . look at them now.)

Jellyfish said…
Sadly, I chose against a Seattle option school based on my interview with the principal. I initially fell in love with the school's website & parent comments, but the tour completely turned me off. I had expected to enroll my 2010 K there. The principal had been recently transferred to this school, and did not understand its mission statement well. He wasn't articulate, and seemed to be desperate for new students. It's really too bad, for this new principal must be one of the worst in the district & signals to me that SPS is not invested in making this option school work. The parents must be incredibly frustrated. Since I don't want to enroll my child in a school that is certain to close, it is not included on my open choice application.
yumpears said…
We have had the good fortune to have Clover Codd come to Alki Elementary this year. She has been a fabulous breath of fresh air. She is definitely an instructional leader, has a vision of success and how to get there. She actually tells the PTA that we shouldn’t be paying for some things that she already has budgeted for – the previous principal would never have been so transparent or to the point. The feeling I get from teachers is that it is a really welcome change. She is involved and shows up to all school functions and all PTA meetings. She has a positive attitude and demeanor that is infectious.
TechyMom said…
Mr. King has been really great at Lowell. His experience with both APP (his daughters are in APP) and TT Minor (where he was principal last year) has really helped him to lead this school to be a single community. There have been all-school events, drama classes, assemblies, and work with individual kids at recess, by both Mr. King and our councilor Ms. Harmon. From what I've heard about Marshall, Lowell is much farther along on becoming a single community.

Mr. King has been responsive to parent needs, including asking for a math waiver to use Singapore. He attends PTA meetings and evening events, and has regular coffee hours with parents.

Oh, and my daughter hugs him.
blogdaddy said…
- a few necessary Hale clarifications:
- the current Dean may not sit well with a few parents (With respect to Hale Parent - I certainly do not want to dispute or discount any interactions you may have had) but he is widely respected by parents, students and staff.
- Current Dean is qualified for AP position and has his admin credentials (and has had for several years). He is not currently in the pool, which seems to be a problem for SPS even though 20-25% of the AP promotions in SPS in the past few years have been to those who were not in the pool but were right for the job.
- the BLT did submit the same waiver they have for the past 12 years to convert the AP to Dean and for the first time it was rejected.
- the BLT did submit a formal request to Dr. Enfield to either have the current Dean promoted to AP or at least put in the pool to be interviewed. This was signed by most of the staff in support of the measure. No official word from the school has been given but the request seems to have been rejected as interviews have been underway.
- PTSA discussed their letter at their PTSA meeting before sending it. With all due respect, one can't expect a voice if one does not attend and elected leaders are elected to give voice to the body of the organization.
- the constant turnover of administration does put undue pressure on Hale, especially with major construction going on. To have a total turnover of new admin within a years time is not a healthy thing for the students, staff or families and it will effect the community negatively (IMO).
- I do like the metrics with which you have been talking about principals. Evaluating for being in the classroom and holding staff accountable and working with them to improve their practice as well as trying to replicate successful practices, promoting rigorous programs, community involvement, setting positive goals and relations with the staff and putting families, students and staff all on the same team with the same high goals are all things that make up a good principal.
Josh Hayes said…
I'm not sure how much anyone would want to comment about a Principal with whom they're unhappy - after all, they still have to deal with him or her.

It's hard to say how things are going at AS1; we've acquired some teachers from Summit, all of whom are terrific. The "oldbies" at AS1 are working to come to grips with the changes at the school, and Roy is coming to grips with the oldbies as well. I don't think he really groks "alternative", but he's trying.

I am puzzled that SPS tells us our enrollment will be down by 30 kids next year, despite the fact that open enrollment closes today. How the heck do they make THAT assumption? But I don't think that Roy had anything to do with that: it's just Word from On High.
SolvayGirl said…
When our school tried to work with the District about a Principal "with whom we were unhappy" the resulting process was a nightmare, despite the fact that 33 out of 36 staff members had voted no confidence (granted this was under the old regime).

However, said principal has continued to bounce around from school to school, so it's obvious the District doesn't do much about it other than playing musical chairs.
Central Mom said…
Frankly, I'm a lot more interested in tougher requirements around the professionalism and leadership skills of SPS principals than SPS teachers. I'll take a marginally effective teacher over a marginally effective principal any day if I had a choice. If SPS principals and VPs were uniformly up to par, that would do more for this district than 3/4ths of the current political shennanigans, students-moving-buildings swaps and teacher critiques are doing.
seattle said…

1) If the Dean at Hale has the credentials to be an AP, why isn't he in the AP candidate pool?

2) What is the principals position on the Dean moving into the AP position? Does she support it?
seattle said…
One more question....

If the Dean of students at Hale wasn't moved into the AP position, where would he go? Would he be placed in another school? Or be rif'd?
P said…
TechyMom, not to diminish anything about Mr King, but the activities you mentioned about making Lowell a single community (assemblies, drama, school events) had already been in place for many years before the split in the APP program and the principal change.

And with only 60 or so TTM kids that transferred to Lowell this year, not much was needed to integrate the two populations at school. With 300 APP kids at Lowell, the TTM kids pretty much had to go with the flow. Remember how the TTM teachers tried to kill the Lowell Way at the beginning of the school year and it came back anyway? That’s the advantage of having one group much larger than the other. The TTM population would have been assimilated into Lowell with or without those great programs which were already in place.
mom of 3 said…
Justine -

Don't know for sure, but I suspect that the reason Hale's Dean of Students wasn't in the AP pool is because he didn't know he was looking for a new job . . .
Meg said…
DeWanda Cook-Weaver was placed on administrative leave in January. Birgit McShane is interim principal at McGilvra.
reader said…
Why was DeWanda Cook-Weaver placed on leave?
SolvayGirl said…
Principals can go on leave for a number of reasons including personal health and family issues. If you track principal movement, you can see that some go on and off leave on a regular basis. Sometimes this is a red flag indicating a problem principal, as the District often uses "leave" as a means to remove a principal from his/her current post.

I have no idea about the circumstance behind Ms. Cook-Weaver's or any other principal on this list's leave, so please don't automatically assume the aforementioned is the case. I'm just making an observation based on past experience with the District. You'd have to research each principal's history to get even close to the whole story—something to consider if any of the on-leave principals appear on your school's selection list.
Travelbug said…
The new principal of Brighton, Cothron L. McMillian is an ineffective leader due to her poor communication skills and lack of collaboration. She concerns herself with minutia rather than the larger issues. She listens to hearsay rather than facts. She has divided the staff and is just plain rude. I wish the district would keep better records on principals. Why do they get a clean slate when going to a new school? A principal who torments staff should not just be moved around the district, but replaced with more effective leaders who have respect for staff and student and value all.
Anonymous said…
Ten staff members left MLK last year because of the "abusive and sometimes bullying behaviors" of Cothron McMillian. Her reputation for dividing schools and assassinating reputations are well-documented. Only four are on her list this year and one is already retired.
What is the point of the District permitting these negative redundant behaviors that do not construct but diminish the daily lives of those unjustly targeted? And the school? Is it any better? Just look at the state report card. Despite union sympathy with the victims, it is powerless here. Ongoing cronyism marches on!!!
Anonymous said…
The count for teachers targeted by Cothron McMillian MLK is now up to at least 8. One teacher retired, of the 2 teachers that were on probation this this year, one does not get her contract renewed (basically fired), and the other one got off because Cothron was caught back dating formal observations, and filed a grievance against her.

Other teachers are displacing themselves yet her iron-fisted rule still carries to their new school. They will be on a plan of improvement based on her observations! That just doesn't seem right.

Another teacher is already on a plan of improvement for next year!

Workplace bullying lives on at this school, mostly by Cothron McMillian.
Anonymous said…
Kim Fox Bryant Elementary. Sad to lose Linda Robinson's vision and direction. Kim Fox has enjoyed Linda Robinson's hard work and efforts. Never has a principal been so absent from the school and the community as Kim Fox is at Bryant. She is out of touch with the community has no connection to the children and has deteriorated a once vibrant staff. Kim is excellent at passing the buck as well as passing the responsibility of leading the school to new heights. Ms. Fox fails to contribute to Bryant events shows no leadership and still to this day three years later has not introduced herself appropriately in front of the parent community. She does not take the leadership role with any direction or responsibility to our community. Linda Robinson was a model Principal in every way and Whittier is lucky to have her. Countless parents who have dealt with Ms. Fox come away with the same dumbfounded response. How is this person running our school. Truth is the school is running itself wit great parent support and great teachers. But with out leadership it is easy to see how this school has transformed since Linda Robinson held the reigns.

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