School District Assembles Diverse Team to Interview Candidates
By Laurie Hindman
When Berthoud High School Principal Leonard Sherman officially submitted his resignation in January, the hunt for a replacement began immediately afterwards. Sherman has been the principal at BHS for 30 years.
Luis Martinez, Executive Director of Human Resources for the Thompson School District, said the process for hiring a high school principal has been in place for a while and is a thorough, rigorous process, which has previously proved successful.
Shortly after a position opens, it is posted in the district, as well as on various prominent Web sites both state and nationwide. Applications are then screened by several executive directors for the school district who use a matrix of qualifications to narrow down the pool to five to seven highly qualified candidates.
“During this procedure is when I meet with stakeholders — teachers, parents and students — and gather feedback on which characteristics, experience and skills they would like to see in the new principal,” explained Martinez.
Teachers nominate two representatives to be on the interview team and two classified staff members; one of the classified members is usually the school secretary whom Martinez described as instrumental to a school’s function. Parents likewise nominate two representatives to be on the interview team.
This team also includes a student from student council. “We only ask student input when hiring a high school principal,” said Martinez. “They are mature enough and offer the student view and a different perspective.”
In addition to representatives from Berthoud, the interviewing team includes a principal from another district high school who is well versed in the current issues, a Director of Student Achievement Services and Martinez.
Each member of the interviewing team is given a notebook, prepared by Martinez, which contains every applicant’s resume, application and reference letters and essays. The applicants are interviewed all in one day; at the end of the day the interview team meets to “de-brief” and to select two to three finalists. The group must reach consensus on the finalists, who are then sent to the superintendent, Dr. Ron Cabrera.
The finalists are not ranked and no additional feedback is submitted so that the candidates are presented to the superintendent with no bias. Cabrera meets with the finalists and selects the candidate he thinks is best suited for the role of principal. Once background checks are performed and an offer is made, the contract for the new principal is sent to the school board for final approval.
The all day interview for the semi-finalists for Sherman’s replacement is scheduled during the week of March 30. Once the interview team makes their selections, the rest of the process goes fairly quickly.
“We will have a decision well before the end of school,” said Martinez.