Letter: What We Want in a Principal for SLHS
Give us a leader with these qualities.
If past practice is any guide, you knew who was going to be the next principal at South Lakes High School before Bruce Butler announced his retirement. The job's wired to some crony of someone at the FCPS Central office (Gatehouse) and this whole exercise is a charade.
Surprise us. Do it different this time.
I had four children go to South Lakes High School from 1996 through 2010. That covers the tenures of Bill Harper, Railly Rodriguez and Bruce Butler.
Please appoint a person as head principal at South Lakes who will give us some leadership because I didn't experience any leadership from any of our head principals at South Lakes during that entire 15 years one of my kids was there.
Malcolm Gladwell writes that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at a skill.Give us a leader with 10,000 hours of actual teaching experience in a high school classroom. That's eight years of HIGH SCHOOL classroom experience.
As summarized in a recent National Geographic article, the brain sciences have made enormous strides in the past decade to help us better understand the development of the adolescent brain. Give us a leader who has done significant post-secondary study of adolescent cognitive, psychological, social and emotional development.
When South Lakes was redistricted, the Hunter Mill School Board member, Stuart Gibson, promised that the community would revisit the choice between IB and AP. That never happened. Either in 1999 when IB was first imposed on Reston or since. Give us a leader who will make good on that broken promise.
Give us a leader who listens. They don't always have to agree with us but they ought to be ready, willing and able to listen to parents, students and faculty and find a way to satisfy as many of those stakeholders as possible and give legitimate, honest explanations when they can't.
Give us a leader who loves high school students and is not afraid of them, either individually or as a group of 2,100.
Give us a leader who is not afraid to admit that they make mistakes; and that their staff makes mistakes; and that Gatehouse makes mistakes.
Give us a leader who attracts enthusiastic, engaging teachers to SLHS and not one who induces those teachers, the best teachers, to leave.
Give us a leader who demonstrably cares as much about the C student headed to NVCC or the workplace as they care about the IB diploma candidate headed to UVA.
Give us a leader who has NOT spent their entire career with FCPS being inculcated in the "Fairfax way." A different perspective always improves one's vision.
Give us leader who would never think of referring to the teenagers in his care as "morally corrupt."
Give us a leader who would never eliminate the All Night Grad Party and throw out the ANGP equipment.
Give us a leader who would never defy Title IX with impunity.
Give us a leader who can address a senior by their correct first name.
Give us a leader who would not tolerate an Assistant Principal harassing female students - for seven years.
Give us a leader who would never write that the SLHS student body was "dominated by gang activity."
Give us a leader who would never allow three years to elapse without sending a condolence note to the parents of a SLHS student who had committed suicide.
Give us a leader who Reston can rally around.
We know what such a leader looks like. We've had them in Reston.
Give us a leader like Carol Bradley. Give us a leader like Debby Jackson. Give us a leader like Dave Dalton.
After 20 years, Reston deserves the best that a "world class" public school system has to offer.