RSD Administrators Hold Forums to Hear Feedback on New Principal Position


Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost holds a forum on March 13 for MHS faculty to express their expectations for the next year’s principal after Principal Dr. Greg Mathison announced that he will be taking a job at Parkway as the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services. A similar forum was held later that day for parents to express their voice.

After the news of Principal Dr. Greg Mathison leaving to take a job as a Parkway Assistant Superintendent of Student Services spread, administration started planning for the hiring of a new MHS principal.

Yesterday, March 13 at 4 p.m., Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost and Assistant Superintendent of Supervision of Schools Dr. Lisa Counts held a forum for teachers to voice their opinions on the qualities the new leader requires. While the attendance of the forum consisted of only 11 faculty members, there was still a variety of suggestions offered.

Timothy Abney, Latin teacher, attended the event.

“I would like an educational leader,” Abney said. “Somebody who’s gone through the steps, had the bad days, had the good days and gets it.”

He also emphasized the importance of the candidate following established policies while still leaning toward improvement in the long run.

Communication and transparency between the teachers, administration and students was also a large component of the discussion.

Another focus was the importance of diversity, or at least the experience and recognition of the importance of diversity, to better reflect the diversity of the student body.

“It is a small world and this is a very diverse building,” Abney said. “Diversity is not necessarily just one’s gender, one’s sexual identity, one’s skin color, language, knowledge, cultural background but also somebody who was in the marching band and gets that aspect of the school … who can relate to all students.”

Emily Thompson, French teacher, also contributed to the forum. Some of her thoughts were the possible experience with flex time and the ability for the candidate to be receptive towards concerns of safety and security.

She also said it is important for Dr. Mathison’s successor to be welcoming and supportive of all students.

“[Someone] who knows how to celebrate everyone,” Thompson said.

The rest of the faculty members also mentioned the need of mutual respect of teachers, experience with how to resolve and prevent social media conflicts and the willingness of the candidate to make MHS a “community hub” for the more outspoken students as much as for the underdogs.

Parents met at 6 p.m., which had an attendance of 17. While they echoed similar points of diversity and communication, many of the parents also brought unique perspectives of passion for MHS and the ability to empower and relate to students as well as staff.

Rita Lakamp, mother of a future MHS student and two current students, attended the forum because she has an invested interest in not only her kids’ education but the community as a whole and the future of MHS.

“I want an advocate for MHS,” Lakamp said. “I love Rockwood but I want to make sure someone is looking out for our school specifically and is looking out for our students.”

She said, as did others, that communication is a large component of a leader. Part of that leadership has to be social media due to the quick availability of information and connection to students in the digital world.

Lakamp said she participated in a similar forum in the past for the new Selvidge Middle School principal.

“I like the fact that the administration is willing to come in and listen to what our particular concerns are for individual schools because they can vary,” Lakamp said. “I like the fact that they take our comments and tailor questions to [the interviews].”

Those questions will be asked of the candidates by a committee of six students, multiple parents and variety of faculty.

Dr. Knost said applications for the position are open until midnight  March 24 and the goal date for choosing a final candidate is April 11, which will be done by the Board of Education by recommendation from Dr. Knost. He said no preference will be given to current RSD employees and they are open to welcome anyone even those outside the region.

Dr. Knost also said students, parents and staff also can send feedback of important characteristics of a principal by email or phone to ensure their voices are represented during the selection process.