8:00 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, Chief Human Resource Officer for Columbia Public Schools Nickie Smith held a listening session for students in the RBHS media center. There, students had the chance to voice their opinions on what attributes are important for the school’s new principal to have. Following the meeting, Smith spoke with Bearing News to discuss how student, parent and staff input will affect the decision-making process during the interview process for selecting the new principal, which will begin Thursday, Feb. 28.
What did you hope to accomplish today?
So, every time that we have an administrator opening, we want to get feedback from all stakeholders that this position will be supporting, and so we’ve had a listening session with parents, the PTSA, we’ve had a listening session with staff, and now we wanted student information as well. And we basically go through the same standard questions, and we look for patterns within that, and then we use that information in terms of characteristics and attributes that individuals are looking for, cater our interview questions towards those attributes, and then also use it as a guide or a rubric in terms of when we’re making a selection so that we know the person we’re choosing is lining up with what the individuals they will be supporting are looking for.
What is some of the feedback you’ve gotten today?
The feedback I’ve gotten today from the students is that they want someone that listens, that communicates well, someone that really – I mean, listening was really the main topic where they want someone that hears students’ voices, that takes the concerns of students into consideration, that doesn’t negate those concerns just because they’re students and actually takes them serious. They also want someone that, you know, places equal emphasis on all activities, all clubs, and is supportive of the students.
How in the interview process will you hope to facilitate [selecting a new principal] and figure out who the best candidate really is?
Right, so tomorrow we’re actually going to start interviews, kind of the Round One of interviews, and we’re going to have panels. We’re going to have a morning panel and an afternoon panel. The morning panel will be comprised mainly of the executive council here at Rock Bridge, as well as some other leadership from Rock Bridge will be on the panel as well, so there is a strong Rock Bridge representation. And then in the afternoon panel there will be some more district people, but there will be an individual from the morning session that will come, as well as myself, that can kind of serve on both panels. And then there will be an additional one or two individuals from Rock Bridge on the second panel as well. So of the 18 individuals that we have amongst the two different panels, we have about 12 or 13 that are representing Rock Bridge, so we have a strong voice for Rock Bridge there.
How effective has this process been in past hirings?
It’s been very effective. You know, we really try to take the considerations of the listening sessions into account, as well as the individuals that are representing the school into account. It is never a good idea to put someone in a building that the staff, the students, the parents wouldn’t support. It sets that person up for failure. It’s just not a good connection, so you want to make sure you’re putting the right person in for the right building. Each culture of every building is unique. The needs of the buildings are unique, of where they are now versus maybe where they’re at in 10 years, that’ll be different. And so really listening to those voices, taking them into consideration and finding the right fit for it [is important].
What attributes are important for RBHS’s new principal to have? Let us know in the comments below!