At Briarcliff Manor School District, hiring a new principal is a group effort. Administrators, teachers, staff and parents are all contributing to the hiring process and everyone gets to have their voices heard.
The district has recently begun a search for new principals for both Todd Elementary School and Briarcliff Middle School, with the approaching retirement of Todd and BMS principals Colleen O’Neill Mangan and Susan Howard this summer. The search is spearheaded by Director of Human Resources Claudia Murphy, who joined the district in July.
Ms. Murphy began the hiring process by sending a survey to teachers, staff and parents, asking what type of qualities they value in a principal and what questions they suggest would be important to ask the candidates during the interviews.
Teachers who provided feedback also will have an opportunity to join the hiring committee, while parents will have the option to join a focus group to discuss in detail what they think are the qualities and qualifications of an excellent candidate.
“While it is not possible for everyone to participate in every part of the process, it is important that the opportunity is there to engage the school community and get their input to maintain the integrity of the process,” Ms. Murphy said.
“As we look at the feedback, it becomes apparent what the school community values. I look forward to learning more during the focus group meetings,” Ms. Murphy said. “We also received input from the hiring subcommittee of the Equity and Diversity Committee and we are using that feedback as well.”
While gathering the feedback from the surveys, Ms. Murphy was looking to find a consensus of commonalities from the different sources.
“The word that resonated with many responses was ‘communication’” Ms. Murphy said. “Clarity of communication, being responsive in a timely fashion, being respectful and communicating the positive school culture are some things that were all mentioned. And of course, instructional leadership was among the leadership competencies that was universally identified as important to our school community.”
The focus groups will take place this week. In the middle of February, Ms. Murphy and other administrators will participate in the 2022 Diversity Job Fair, where they will be able to conduct short virtual interviews of potential candidates. Many candidates have already applied through OLAS, an online search platform that connects candidates to jobs in K-12 schools in New York State and which was created by PNW BOCES.
“We don’t know what candidates are out there but we have the process structured and we are ready to welcome the most highly qualified candidate to our district,” Ms. Murphy said.
Ms. Murphy appreciates this process even more so because she is new to the district.
“The experience also provides a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the district and the pulse of the community,” she said.
And she has certainly learned a lot about the parents based on the surveys.
“I can tell how dedicated the parents are, just from seeing the results of the surveys,” she said. “The parents spoke highly of the teachers and administration in the schools, and they spoke of the caliber of the Briarcliff level of excellence and expectations.”
“They are cognizant of the fact that the new principal will need to balance various issues, such as handling the pandemic, while maintaining the standards of excellence in teaching and also being aware of the social-emotional component,” she said. “The importance of the school culture and embracing the global community is also something that the new principals will have to uphold.”
According to Ms. Murphy, the responses from the surveys and the feedback from the focus groups and stakeholders will help inform and shape the process, including the types of questions that will be asked during the interviews.
“In my past experiences, I have always found it very powerful to offer people an opportunity to contribute in whatever form, as appropriate,” she said. “It is very powerful and strengthening to have various people help to contribute to the process. It is important that we hear everyone’s voice.”