Principal placements are complete and supports from the district office are in place
With Metro Schools opening August 3, a team of new leaders is ready to serve and support the 88,000 students expected to walk through the doors in just 7 days. In all, 31 Metro schools will have new principals this year and several new district-level leaders have joined the team to support them. These hires represent both the culmination of a brand new community focused process to find and place school leaders and a new central office structure to give higher levels of support to school leaders and teachers.
“We were able to bring in a good mix of internal candidates and national talent to fill some pretty key roles, and it’s gratifying to see Team MNPS stocked with such exceptional leaders,” said Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph. “The structure we have built for district office leadership is focused on one thing only: supporting principals. We have added staff in some areas and changed the roles of existing staff members in others. It means our principals are better connected to district resources and have a strong support system to help them improve and problem solve. Between our new principals and their new support system, we will start the school year on very strong footing.”
For the first time, new school principals were chosen using a hiring process that involved direct community involvement throughout. Starting with a fact-finding meeting at each school with a vacancy, parents, teachers and district officials built a leadership profile of priority characteristics for the new principal. From there, parents and teachers were invited to sit on the interview panels where candidates were expected to demonstrate that they possessed the qualities the school community wanted. After reviewing the input and notes from interviews, Dr. Joseph made the final decision of which candidate best matched the characteristics in the leadership profile.
In some cases, there were either no candidates who fit the profile or there was too little time to do a thorough interview process. Acting principals were placed at those schools who provide consistency with the prior administration while a search process takes place. Acting principals will be in place for a full school year to avoid the disruption of changing principals mid-year.
“I know 31 new principals is a lot in a single year,” said Dr. Joseph. “Thanks to retirements, promotions and the natural turnover that happens in an organization in transition, we had a lot of spots to fill. In general, there’s been a lot of principal turnover over the last several years. Now we are ready to offer these schools the stability of consistent leadership, and I feel great about how we have positioned ourselves to start the year. The new process worked, and these principals are poised to lead their schools to greatness.”
There to support those principals in the district office will be a corps of strong leaders that includes a several new faces and several returning ones. Leadership is structured in two layers, with executive lead principals offering direct supports to principals and executive officers leading major units or initiatives within the district.
The executive lead principal (ELP) position has undergone important changes that will allow each of them to dedicate more time to individual schools and supporting their needs. Firstly, the number of ELPs has almost doubled, from seven to 13, meaning each of them is responsible for nearly half the number of schools they were previously. Additional staff was added by repurposing funding formerly used as stipends for school-based network lead principals, meaning no net increase to the operating budget.
Secondly, they will be using new tools and review methods at regular intervals throughout the school year to communicate clear expectations and analyze data that is specific to the needs of that school. Those data points will look at both academics and school culture, and if they show an area that needs greater support, the ELP and principal can work together with a team of teachers and district experts to address it.
“We want to create a culture of high accountability coupled with high support,” said Dr. Joseph. “If there’s an issue at a school that needs to be dealt with, it’s on us to give the principal the resources and help to fix it. The executive lead principals will be present in the buildings, working with school leaders every day giving them that high level of support.”
Six new ELPs, including two former Metro principals who have been promoted and four who were recruited from out of state, are joining the existing seven to create a larger team to support principals.
- Adrienne Battle-Koger
- Damon Cathey – New ELP; former principal of DuPont Tyler Middle School
- Dottie Critchlow
- Kathleen Dawson – New ELP; new to Nashville
- Karen DeSouza Gallman – New ELP; new to Nashville
- Jon Hubble
- Linda Iverson – New ELP; new to Nashville
- David Kovach
- Lilly Lefler – New ELP; new to Nashville
- Michelle Maultsby-Springer – New ELP; former principal of Croft Middle School
- Pippa Meriwether
- Bill Warren
- Sharon Wright
They will be led by executive officers for each tier, remaining in place from last school year:
- Vanessa Garcia, executive officer for elementary schools
- Antoinette Williams, executive officer for middle schools
- Aimee Wyatt, executive officer for high schools
Also joining the district leadership team are other previously announced executive officers:
- Moreno Carrasco, executive officer for priority schools
- Maritza González, executive officer for diversity and equity
- Dennis Queen, executive officer for charter schools
Also previously announced, new Chief Academic Officer Dr. Monique Felder and Chief of Schools Dr. Sito Narcisse will lead the newly renamed Division of Teaching and Learning and Division of School Improvement and Support, respectively.
Finally, Toni Russell has been named the new executive director of technology and information services, coming straight from Texas where she worked on the space program as the chief information officer for United Space Alliance.
“I’m kind of in awe of the team we’ve put together both at the school level and in the district office,” said Dr. Joseph, “and I am convinced that Team MNPS has never been stronger. With this combination of institutional knowledge and fresh perspectives, we will build the fastest improving district in the nation.”