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The process behind finding the right principal

An insight on the procedures being done to find the best fit for Oakton's administration

Rebecca Woodhouse, Feature Editor

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As much as we all love our interim principal, Mr. Meier, the question of who will be Oakton’s next principal is in everyone’s mind. Dr. Banbury left Oakton to become the Executive Principal for Region 1, which means that he now oversees all the high schools Herndon, Langley, Madison, Oakton and South Lakes as well as the elementary and middle schools beneath them. There is currently a vacancy, because although Mr. Meier is fun to have as part of the Oakton community he isn’t a permanent replacement. So the question remains: who will it be?

To get a better understanding of what is currently done to find a new principal for Oakton, it is essential to comprehend the process. However, the selection procedure for the new principal is one that does not occur overnight.

To start the undertaking, people from Fairfax County Public Schools Human Resources and the Region 1 office first meet with people from the staff and students from the community where the new principal is needed. At this stage, a leadership profile is developed from the input gathered from the community to determine who would be the best fit.

Junior Sophia Applegate participated in one such meeting with the Oakton community to learn more about the principal selection process. On Friday May 5, people from Oakton met with two represented who are directly involved with the selection process. During the meeting, the representatives, “asked us about the characteristics we would like to see in our future principal,” said Applegate. Students that participated in the group discussion were from all different clubs and backgrounds to fully represent the school community. Through this meeting, Applegate could learn of the many steps in the process that it takes. The input helps to, “make sure the principal is the right fit for the school,” Applegate said.

The position of high school principal is then advertised to everyone. The position is advertised internally, to current employees in Fairfax County such as vice principals or administrators at other schools. The position is also open to others people through websites like MonsterJobs.com and announcements on the Fairfax County website.

To be a principal in FCPS, there are a couple of requirements that all candidates need to satisfy. All applicants need to have at least 4 years of teaching experience as well as 3 years as an administrator. They also need to be endorsed in administration.

After the position is advertised for about one week, resumes are reviewed which typically number from about 25 to 35 various candidates. The Region Office and Human Resources Department meet to review applicants for the positions, and select usually around 3 to 8 people to interview. People such as the Region Assistant Superintendent and the Executive Principal for the region are involved in this process. However, since Dr. Banbury is currently the Executive Principal for this region after his promotion, someone else is filling in for this role.

In the first round of interviews, each of the applicants has 30 minutes to present themselves in front of a panel consisting of 3 staff members from the school, 3 community members, a student, a principal from the region, and other people such as HR. Based off these interviews, the top candidates move forward to the second round of interviews with the region leaders such as Douglas Tyson (Assistant Superintendent of Region 1). For Oakton, this first round of interviews occurred on May 10. Usually, the entire process takes about 4-6 weeks after the panel date.

After the second round of interviews, the interviewers participate in the next round of interviewers which are with Dr. Lockard, Interim Superintendent and members of the leadership team. From there it is decided who is the best fit and match to lead Oakton and after a few more steps with the school board members, the position is offered to the top candidate. After the decision is made and the new principal is introduced to the public, the new principal has the freedom to interact with the school in any way they choose.

According to Mr. Parker, from the FCPS Human Resources Department, “how often schools need new principals really depends on the circumstances.” Dr. Banbury was at Oakton for 12 years before moving up to the position of Executive Principal. Principals often retire or accept new positions, which is why FCPS is looking to hire 12 principals currently.
While it may not be next week when the Oakton community learns of the new principal for the future, FCPS is currently in the middle of the selection process. Everyone, from students to teachers to parents, look forward to meeting the new principal, whoever it may be.

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The process behind finding the right principal