Editorial: Our New Principal

We need a principal who cares. While this sounds self-explanatory, the Middle School often gets lost in the shuffle of a busy K-12 school such as GFS. Our principal should be willing to stick up for our division while collaborating with the entire school. To do this, he or she will need a vision for what the Middle School should be, and want to follow through. We believe that any person can be well-meaning, but it takes determination to make their job work. It’s always hard to respect a person you don’t know very well, but it can also be hard to trust an adult who doesn’t maintain boundaries. The principal can’t be “a deity who lives in the office”, because distance from students will never lead to a good relationship. But really, would you want your principal to try to act buddy-buddy either? It’s undoubtedly a difficult balance to maintain. To that end, an administrator might have an easier time with that balance if they already have experience with Middle Schoolers. Middle School is an awkward period for students. No matter how cliched that excuse is, it’s true. Many complaints about teachers fall along the lines of “she talks to us like we’re in college” or “he acts like we’re kindergarteners.” Our new leader should have this dynamic worked out before they come in and meet an entirely new group of students. Communication skills are absolutely vital in this area, since the Middle School principal has to be able to talk to teachers, parents and students without missing a beat. The principal is the next logical step up from grade advisor if a family has a concern, and helping families is one of the principal’s most important jobs. As far as academics go, the principal absolutely needs to be involved in curriculum without trying to steamroll teachers who have different ideas about how to teach. And of course, they need to be able to work with the department heads around events, homework and assessments. It’s safe to say that GFS likes its traditions. Someone who comes in and attempts to make drastic changes will meet with lots of opposition. Most of the candidates interviewed so far have said that they want to “come in and listen”. While a predictable, diplomatic answer, that approach will allow them to bring necessary new ideas in without angering people whose help they need. Depending on who you ask, GFS may like its traditions too much. To combat staleness, an outside perspective would definitely be helpful. A Quaker principal obviously isn’t (and shouldn’t be) mandatory, but someone from another background who respects Quaker values and has good knowledge of them would be off to a better start of helping the Middle School make progress. They should know enough about the SPICES that they could educate people about them (remember, previous principals have taught the 7th grade Quakerism class) and they should be committed to Quaker values at our school. Coming into a new community where you have only met a handful of people is hard. Coming in and being expected to lead that community in a better direction is even harder. But whoever the school hires will fill the position better if they possess or develop these qualities.