A tempest in a teapot has been brewing since readers learned that Okaloosa County Schools allowed principal applicants beyond county limits for the 2013-14 school year.
Still, one Okaloosan slipped in among the north county schools’ new leaders.
Northwood Elementary’s new prinicipal, Donna Goode, comes from Huntsville, Ala.; Riverside Elementary’s Tammy Matz, from Mishawaka, Ind.; and Shoal River Middle’s Cheree Davis leaves Edwins Elementary in Fort Walton Beach for Crestview, her hometown.
Each principal is experienced and tested.
A banner achievement in Goode’s 25-year teaching career and 14 years in administration is bringing Owens Cross Roads Elementary School from a D to an A in one year, according to Okaloosa Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson.
Matz brings 12 years’ administration experience, and she’s already prepared for Common Core State Standards, the county’s new curriculum that will replace the FCAT in 2014.
Davis, who hadn’t been a principal before the 2011-12 school year, has led Edwins to new heights, spearheading a facility renovation project and breakfast program that lifted student morale and boosted kids’ health. Such changes to one of Okaloosa’s oldest schools prompted many parents’ attention.
Northwood, Riverside and Shoal River have capable leaders, but a number of readers have criticized the district after learning that a committee allowed candidates outside the district due to a purportedly shallow applicant pool.
We have received phone calls, Facebook messages and postings on our website — many with harsh words for the superintendent, questioning anyone suggesting Okaloosa’s teachers are less than suitable for administrative positions.
But is it all just a misunderstanding?
Teachers instruct and motivate students, instill life lessons and ultimately change lives. We recently received a phone call about a teacher whose actions, compassion and generosity surpass her position’s base requirements. And there are others like her, the caller said.
We know. Saturday’s edition concluded a 12-part series on north Okaloosa’s Teachers of the Year.
No one, including the school district’s administrators, has discounted our teachers’ value.
It’s just that the job requirements and descriptions differ.
Entry-level elementary, middle and high school principal positions typically require a master’s degree, as opposed to a teacher’s bachelor’s degree, according to the United States Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And some traits that readers have told us qualify their favorite teachers for an administrative position don’t necessarily move the needle.
Unusual generosity in time and money make a teacher memorable, but a principal’s primary duties include supervising staff, monitoring teacher and student performance and managing the school budget — which means making unemotional decisions that often include more nos than yeses.
Two different jobs require two different skill sets, and there’s nothing wrong with that, or with the school district committee’s inclusive search for administrative positions — unless you believe that one job is more important than the other, which we don’t.