There is a great scene in the TV show “Alcatraz,” about the notorious San Francisco Bay federal penitentiary that closed in the early 60s. The scene reminds me of the about-to-be-done search for a principal at Scarborough High School.

The warden, who is an SOB (or at least plays one on TV), is captured in a prisoner uprising. Two inmates have locked him in his office with them. One says, “Sit down, my friend,” the snide greeting the warden would use to welcome prisoners.

“We have just a few questions to go through with you.” The prisoner reads from the clipboard the warden in each prisoner intake conference. “Do you plan to conduct yourself in a gentlemanly fashion while a guest—or will you need persuasion each day?”

The viewer feels some poetic justice in seeing the warden put through the same paces he has put each of the 200-plus prisoners through in recent years.

A similar scenario is available this month at SHS.

It is probably a good idea (and potentially quite humorous…) to have all serious applicants for the job of SHS Principal fill out one of the professional reference forms that each candidate for teaching/volunteer/coaching jobs has to have submitted from each of their “references.” An abbreviated question list:

Skill and expertise

of applicant

“We are interested in several of the applicant’s areas of expertise and skill. These (include) …. knowledge base, collaborative skills, and communication skills. … Please rate the candidate’s level of mastery or competency in each area …”

Okay, here’s a quiz how many of you, dear readers, have had to deal over the, oh, say, past 15 years with any of the principals of any of the schools in Scarborough the K-2 schools, Wentworth School, Middle School, and SHS? And, a show of hands, how many of you would LOVE to have the chance to make at least one of those principals sit in a chair and answer those question in front of you!! A show of hands please… OK, 1,2,3,4….4,367 readers. Thank you!

Communication skills

of applicant

“Does the applicant communicate effectively with:

_____students/clients;_ ____staff; _____parents/community; ____co-workers.”

Same question as before!

(Maybe not so much fun with Barbara Hathorn, current SMS principal, who has always struck me as a mature adult and, better, also someone who seemed to remember daily what it is like for her and others to also be parents in the school system. I once told her I had read a particular regulation we were dealing with 20 years earlier as a lawyer for a client. I was reading it that day and it surprised me. “The second time you read it as a parent and it was different, wasn’t it?” she said to me, leaning forward, disarmingly, with a smile that seemed to hint that perhaps her own kids had not been like Buffy and Chloe on p. 42 of the LL Bean catalog.)

Applicant interest in self improvement

“Is the applicant committed to:

_____self improvement; _____improvement of practice; _____improvement of the organization; _____student/client needs, creatively and practically.”

Now, you think I am making this stuff up, don’t you? I’m not!!

(Another advertisement for the current SMS staff Assistant Principal Dave Currier once reported approaching a student in the hallway, pulling him aside, and telling him bluntly that he had violated an important school rule. Currier was asked if such an approach would be one likely taught in a local Dale Carnegie human interaction/business success classes: “I’m not taking a Dale Carnegie class. I am trying to be an assistant principal. And I am more concerned here with the student’s performance here than my own. Middle-schoolers don’t always do well with subtlety.” Currier from downtown for three).

Any need for professional development

for the applicant?

OK, OK I will stop now. I just had to list this question. Too tempting not to.

Sue me, but I enjoyed watching the prisoners in “Alcatraz” grill the mean warden.

And I think asking the SHS principal candidates to thru the same Q and A that they will soon be having others go thru is good sauce-for-the-goose stuff. Break me off a piece off of that here.

Dan Warren lives in Scarborough. He can be reached at [email protected]


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