Interviews for MCHS principal are Friday

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10 people applied, two withdrew, three being interviewed

By Stevie Lowery

The Marion County school district recently hired a new superintendent and Marion County High School could soon hire a new principal.

Monday evening, members of the MCHS site-based decision making council reviewed a total of eight applications and they plan to interview the top three candidates Friday. (Originally, 10 people applied for the job, but two withdrew.)

Stacey Hall, Glenn Spalding and Greg Suhr are the finalists to become the next MCHS principal.

Hall is the current assistant principal and athletics director at MCHS. He was also one of the finalists last year when the site-based council was unable to reach an agreement about who the principal should be.

Spalding is the principal at Bloomfield Middle School in the Nelson County School District. He is a native of Marion County and was the head football coach at Marion County High School during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Spalding resigned in 2000, and went on to coach and teach in Nelson County.

Greg Suhr works for Providence Independent School District in assessment.

The MCHS site-based council will interview the three candidates Friday afternoon, beginning at 3:30 p.m., and could make a decision that evening, according to Jeff Robbins, council chairman. But, the official announcement won't be made until Monday morning, he said.

The site-based council attempted a search last July after then-principal Taylora Schlosser became the assistant superintendent for Marion County schools.

The site-based council identified seven finalists for the position. They were Paula Curtis (a math teacher at MCHS), Steve Evans (assistant principal at Boyle County Middle School), Stacey Hall (assistant principal and athletics director at MCHS), Curtis Higgins (math teacher and football coach at Fern Creek High School), Eric King (director of the alternative school at MCHS), Christina McRay (assistant principal at MCHS) and Michael Tinsley (principal at Christian County Middle School).

When the site-based council was unable to reach a decision, then-Superintendent Donald Smith appointed Lebanon Middle School Assistant Principal Chris Brady to serve as an interim principal during the 2010-11 academic year.

Wednesday, May 11, the council met to discuss the criteria that it thinks is essential for the next principal.

The members of the MCHS site-based council are Chairman Robbins, Cheryl Body, Philip Chatigny, Martha Ann Mattingly, Jamie Brown and Todd Spalding.

The council as a whole agreed that consistency was a very important trait for the next principal, as well as strong organization and communication skills and the ability to enforce discipline fairly.

Spalding said accountability was essential.

"It's apparent to me that we're going to have to find a principal that we feel confident is going to hold staff accountable..." he said. "Someone who is not going to allow the teachers to play movies when my child is in class, which has happened the last couple of years."

Brown said the next principal must get teachers more involved and find a way to increase teacher participation across the board.

"I think we've gotten lax with that," she said.

Chuck Hamilton, who will officially become Marion County superintendent July 1, said finding an instructional leader is crucial.

"I hate to start my statements off here like this but I'm a little bit disappointed because everything you've talked about has been management in the building," he said. "I haven't heard anything about instruction."

Hamilton said the next principal must be familiar with Senate Bill 1 requirements, and must be able to gain the respect of the staff when discussing instructional strategies in the classroom.

"There's lots of factors there from an instructional standpoint that, to me, would be a much higher priority," he said.

Mattingly said she thinks instruction would improve if teachers and students were being held accountable and discipline problems weren't such an issue.

"If we get all of these other things in line, we have such good teachers in this building those kinds of things are going to fall in place," she said. "If you have accountability and you get your building in order, that your instruction is there already, and that it will only continue to grow and get better if we get a handle on some other things."

Hamilton said it was important for the council and the next principal to put instruction first. He also said it was crucial that the next principal be able to forge relationships with everyone.

"I can honestly say to you, the high school principal position, especially in a community where there is only one high school, is, by far, the hardest job in the district," Hamilton said. "You need somebody who can commit to you. Who has energy, but can keep it focused... I'm not talking about just spastic all over the place, but they do have to have energy."

Hamilton reminded the council how important their decision will be for the district, and for him as superintendent.

"It's a huge decision for me as to what you make because if it doesn't work out, you don't have to worry about it. I do," he said. "It's very important to me as to what you do with this."