To fill the open principal position at Bradt Primary School, Mohonasen Central School District Superintendent Kathleen Spring said she would gladly take a clone of Michele Whitley, the school district’s academic administrator for literacy.
But instead, for a year, she’ll take Whitley, who has been filling in as principal since Katria Hitrick left for personal reasons in May. Whitley will continue in the interim role through the end of the 2014-15 school year, Spring recently announced.
The plan was to begin the hiring process this fall, but district officials agreed a familiar face was needed to help the K-2 school transition and keep the focus on the children, Spring said. The new plan is to start the hiring process toward the end of the school year and hire a principal for the 2015-16 school year.
The school has had some turnover in recent years, as Hitrick replaced Diane McIver in 2012 after McIver became a district administrator on special assignment for Annual Professional Performance Reviews, a new position introduced with the state's revised teacher and principal evaluation system.
“We were sensing from the faculty and staff that they were very nervous about the transition,” Spring said, “so the more that we thought and talked about it, we decided it made more sense to give Michele a year here at the building so that she could help work with the faculty, who are very excited and enthusiastic, and figure out what the direction is for the future.”
Spring said Whitley will not be hired as a permanent replacement because her expertise in English language arts is needed at the administrative level. As an administrator, Whitley oversees all ELA programs, as well as the implementation of Common Core literacy standards.
Spring said the district will look to hire someone with qualities similar to Whitley as the next Bradt principal.
“I’d like a clone of Michele, but I want someone that’s energetic, that loves children, like genuinely loves children, and gets excited about all their little discoveries,” she said.
Whitley first came to the district in 2000 as a fifth-grade teacher at Pinewood Intermediate School, where she taught for four years. She left the district for a few years to begin her administrative career in the Ballston Spa Central School District, but returned in 2007 to become principal at Pinewood, a position she held for five years. She became academic administrator for literacy in 2012.
She started as interim principal at Bradt in May after having her second child and returning from maternity leave.
“I’m really excited to stay on in this role,” Whitley said.
Whitley will spend most of her time at Bradt. She said she is able to juggle the two positions with support from district faculty and staff and because her administrative role often intertwines with the principal duties at Bradt, where literacy is the primary focus.
She is receiving no additional pay for taking on both jobs, but she said she is receiving some added compensation.
“Lots of hugs, lots of thanks and lots of praise, which I appreciate,” she said.