Rocky Fork Enterprise

Principal candidates

Interview process begins for MSS, MSW

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The first round of interviews were scheduled to begin April 22-23 for new principals at Gahanna's Middle School West and Middle School South, respectively.

Gahanna-Jefferson Superintendent Francis Scruci said the district received 104 applications for the principal positions, with prospects applying for both open positions.

"We are interviewing eight and are looking for the right candidate for each school," he said.

ThisWeek filed a public-records request with the district to obtain the names and current positions of candidates to be interviewed. ThisWeek received the names but obtained their current positions independently.

The candidates and their current positions are: Melanie McGue, principal, Starling Middle School, Columbus City Schools; Paul Smathers, principal, Finland Middle School, South-Western City Schools; Brian Verde, assistant principal, Westland High School, South-Western City Schools; and Aaron Winner, assistant principal, Middle School South, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools; Edmund Baker, principal, Champion Middle School, Columbus City Schools; Colon Lewis, principal, Southmoor Middle School, Columbus City Schools; Robin Murdock, principal, Gahanna Community School, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools; and Michael Tanchevski, assistant principal, Watkins Memorial High School, Southwest Licking Local Schools.

Scruci told ThisWeek the district is looking for leaders with middle school experience and who would fit each building's needs.

"Middle school education is different," he said. "They're different types of kids at that grade level. They're dealing with hormones and finding out who they are. It's a different approach at the middle school level. There are things we'll be looking for to match up with our needs."

He said he sees the change at the middle schools as opportunities to bring fresh ideas and new leadership.

Following the initial round of interviews with a panel of teachers, parents and principals, Scruci said, he, curriculum director Beth Spieth and human-resources director Matt Cygnor would interview candidates.

Finalists for MSW then will be interviewed in an open forum April 29, when the entire school's staff could ask the same question of each candidate. The same process will be held for MSW finalists April 30.

"Candidates can't prepare for that type of interview," Scruci said. "I think that tells us a lot about the candidate, (like) do they think well on their feet. It helps us separate the candidates."

He said he hopes to announce the new principals during the May 9 board meeting.

The G-J Board of Education accepted the resignation of MSW principal Brett Harmon on April 10. He has accepted an administrative post with the South-Western City Schools.

Harmon has worked for Gahanna-Jefferson since 2004, and he has served as MSW principal since August 2008.

MSS principal Kristen Groves is changing positions to become principal of Blacklick Elementary School. Robin Schmidt, who has served as Blacklick principal since 2001, is retiring.

Groves has worked for the district since 1997 in various roles, including teacher, assistant principal, principal and executive director of business and school improvement.

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