Search ensues for new principal

President Richard O'Hara officially announced Principal Madelyn Ball's resignation on Feb. 8, over email. Administration is currently searching for a replacement to fill the position by May 1.

Elizabeth Harmison

President Richard O'Hara officially announced Principal Madelyn Ball's resignation on Feb. 8, over email. Administration is currently searching for a replacement to fill the position by May 1.

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The search to fill the principal position has begun.

On Feb. 8, President Richard O’Hara sent an email to faculty, families, and students about Principal Madelyn Ball’s decision to resign at the end of this school year. Ball’s last day in office is June 30.

According to O’Hara, the job listing was originally to be posted by March 6. The job was posted on at least two websites, National Association of Independent Schools and Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools, on March 11.

Interest in the job existed before the listing even posted. “I’ve already had a couple emails and calls from people inquiring. Word seems to get out very quickly,” O’Hara said.

After the initial listing, it is expected to take three to four weeks to compile a full list of names and do preliminary screenings on the candidates. It was originally expected for a working list of semifinalists to be generated by around March 24, but one job posting shows an application due date of April 30.

To help narrow down the list, O’Hara says that he will most likely have a small representative search committee, with seven to eight people including of teachers, staff, and maybe a student or two. They will be most involved in looking at all the data.

Then, according to O’Hara, there will be a segment of the Board of Trustees that will be a part of the interview process in which finalists will visit the school and be interviewed throughout the day. “We’ll bring finalists here, and typically, you end up with two or three finalists, [and]  they’re here for a full day and an evening, and then they meet with the whole faculty at some point [as well].”

There will be an opportunity for a larger group of students, parents, and the whole faculty and staff to hear the finalists. According to O’Hara, they all will be given evaluation sheets to log their impressions of the finalists, which will go to the search committee who will make a recommendation to O’Hara.

What I’ve told the faculty is that if we don’t find the person we’re not just going to pick a person.”

— President Richard O'Hara

The ideal date to have the new position filled is May 1, but according to O’Hara, they won’t pick just anyone to fill the role. “What I’ve told the faculty is that if we don’t find the person we’re not just going to pick a person,” he said.

In the case that a principal is not found, there would be an interim principal for a year. According to O’Hara, this interim position would most likely be filled by an internal person. In the past, this interim position has been filled twice by Vice Principal of Academics Gary Scholl.

O’Hara, who has the ultimate decision about who will fill this position, says the new principal must be “a visionary academic leader who will also be able to convert vision into reality.” They must also be someone who loves teenagers and relates well to them, and is an effective, open communicator.

Students have their own opinions about the qualities the new principal should encompass.

“We need someone who can keep order within the school, and help regulate and centralize things,” sophomore Drew Forthman said. “I also feel they need to expand different areas. A lot of focus is stuck on sports.”

Relaying O’Hara’s belief, students also think the principal should relate to students. “I think JC needs someone who is capable of fulfilling the needs of the students and teachers, someone who shows so much care toward the school that new students can sense it even before they walk in,” junior Eryn Roach said.

In the end, according to O’Hara, JC needs somebody who is “extraordinarily compatible with the mission of [the school] and is committed to the things our school is committed to.”

Claire Grunewald is the Print Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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