BCSD seeks help from stakeholders in selecting new principal for Cainhoy Elementary

In the Cainhoy Elementary School (CES) auditorium, a group of over 70 parents, grandparents, and teachers congregated last week to discuss a keystone of every school: the principal.

The July 26 meeting followed the news that previous CES principal, Aidra Shaw, has left to take over the top administration post at Westview Primary School. Former Berkeley County School District Principal Alan Wilson is currently serving as interim principal at CES.

In the town hall discussion hosted by the BCSD administration, parents of Cainhoy Elementary students and the Cainhoy community told Superintendent Eddie Ingram, Chief Human Resources Officer Karen Whitley, Board Member Frank Wright, and Wilson what they should look for in a new leader.

The comments and questions ran the spectrum of what the group believes an educator should know, such as where to take special needs programs, how to diffuse situations, and how to foster teacher-parent relationships.

Whitley said that they would use questions and comments from the meeting to develop their own questions for candidates in the interview process.

“You will help us frame the questions by what you tell us,” Ingram further explained.

Cainhoy resident Sybil Mitchell said her qualifying traits in a principal are someone who will commit to the school for the foreseeable future, engage with the community, and inspire the students.

“What Cainhoy deserves is someone, the principal, administrator, whose tenure and focus is on the school and the community in the long term,” said Mitchell.

Philip Simmons Middle School teacher Wendy Richardson said that she wants a principal that focuses on the future of students as they advance from one school to the next.

“I would love a principal who would focus less on the future of the school and more on the future of the students as they transition from one school to the other,” said Richardson. She suggested better collaboration between schools across the county.

“I think that should be an innovative initiative by the principal to do just that,” said Wright in response.

Retired Cainhoy Elementary teacher Dora Howard distilled her idea of a perfect principal down to their passion for students and the school. Candidates that research their community and try to stay connected with it are superior, in Howard’s eyes.

“I don’t know who the applicants are, but I want those who are interviewing to be asked the question ‘what is your passion about this area,’” she said. “They need to know that they have to embrace the whole child, and the whole child comes with the parents, comes with the community, comes with the churches.”

The number of CES alum present for the gathering seemed to grow with every person that spoke. Even Wright mentioned his time as a student at the school, before throwing in his opinion of what the right candidate will be like.

“I’m looking for someone that understands the foundation and is willing to build upon that,” said Wright.

Daniel Island Publishing

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Daniel Island, SC 29492 

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