Posted on: 07.23.2018 at 11:00 a.m.
By Diana Matthews
Whiteville City Schools conducted interviews this week with applicants for the principals’ positions at Edgewood Elementary School and Whiteville High School.
System superintendent Kenny Garland said that, due to legitimate prior work commitments of some of the people involved, he scheduled most of the applicants to come in Monday and the final two Wednesday.
Garland employed a panel format in which 20 WCS staff members met with the candidates around tables in the central services meeting room in downtown Whiteville.
At each table, four WCS employees used a set of printed questions to interview each applicant. The applicants moved from table to table, meeting a different group of questioners each time.
Bonnie Lee is on the administrative staff at Edgewood and participated a year ago on a similar group interview of prospective assistant principals. The process that Garland instituted is “a wonderful thing,” she said. With input from various departments, “It’s not just someone making a decision for the school. Everyone gets a chance to be part of the panels. Teachers, teacher assistant, cafeteria people,” said Lee.
“There is so much more to the process” than most people would realize, Lee said.
With candidates arriving at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Garland gathered his panels at 1:45 and reminded them of their strategy.
“You’ve got (the candidates’) resumes on your tables,” Garland told the teams. Because there were five tables and only two candidates that day, “There may be a little bit of hurry up and wait,” but the process was “too important to push forward” in a rushed way.
Garland urged the school representatives to take their time and look for “the principal” who was most suited to each school, not just “a principal. Anybody can find a principal,” he said.
“I want you asking the same questions you asked the other day,” he told panel members. “That’s in fairness to these candidates.”
After panels filled out rating sheets with their thoughts about the candidates, said Garland, he would perform additional vetting and make his recommendations to the school board.
“We’ve got quality candidates,” Garland said. Before admitting the candidates to the room, he told panel members that, “I appreciate you taking the time to do this for me.”
The city school system found itself in the unusual position of having three principal vacancies at one time this spring when Christopher Kelly of Central Middle School and Jared Worthington of Edgewood both took positions in Union County and Jes Sealey of WHS moved into a job as the WCS Director of Operations.
“The system is committed to finding high-quality candidates to meet the needs of our students and the community. It is our goal to have these vacancies filled no later than August 1, 2018,” Garland said in June.
Earlier this month, Garland recommended April Corbett, formerly assistant principal at CMS, to take Kelly’s place as the school’s principal; the school board approved her for a two-year contract.