by Owen Kurtiak
Choosing a new principal is a big decision and can sometimes be a hard process, and particularly so at Oyster River. Until Mr. Allen held the position for five years, there had been a lot of turnover at the top. In 2011, Mr. Allen was brought up from the Oyster River Middle School to serve as interim principal until it was made official he would stay. This was unusual in that typically the position had not been filled with an internal candidate.
As Mr. Allen moved on to the position of assistant superintendent for the ORCSD this past fall, the search for a new principal started. This year’s committee for the new principal had some adjustments to account for previous challenges during this process. To avoid disapproval from the students, the process had them more involved than in the past. “Every superintendent can have a different style in process to hiring a principal, though there’s not a lot of variation between the processes. They try to get all the ‘stakeholders’ involved,” said Dave Hawley, a social studies teacher at the high school and a past member on the committee.
After an open application period, where applicants could apply, approximately eight administrators from around the district held a screening process to narrow the number of candidates down to six. After that short list was created, the screening process got more in-depth. The committee interviewed each of the six candidates to narrow it down to only two finalists.
The committee was made up of high school teachers, administrators, school board members, and parents. “Having two school board members on the committee allows for more representation, which helps the process,” said Mark Milliken, Oyster River High School’s Dean of Faculty.
Once the search for the new principal was down to two candidates the committee spent half a day at each candidate’s school. They interviewed administration, teachers, and students that the candidates had worked with. After that process, both of them had a visit with the student senate of ORHS. They ate lunch together and the senate had the chance to ask each candidate whatever questions they want. Questions included: What do you enjoy about your job? What do you wish to achieve at ORHS? “The lunch was a great time to get a clear sense what each candidate plans to do in the future,” said Alex Symanski.
Written feedback was then collected from staff, committee members, and students, and then analyzed. At the end of this process, the heavy majority pointed to the choice of Susan Filippone for the new principal.
Filippone is currently one of the three assistant principals at Spaulding High School in Rochester, NH. She has previous experience at Berwick Academy where she worked for 10 years. Filippone attended the University of New Hampshire, where she earned her master’s degree in education. Prior to joining Spaulding, she worked in New York as the dean of students at Doane Stuart High School.
Justin Clothier (’17) thought that Filippone sounds very enthusiastic about her new position. “I thought her ideas and what she plans for the future is very promising,” said Caroline Wilson (’17), the student representative on the school board.