Finding a job in Kentucky has been a learning process. Kentucky has 174 public school districts, and a total of 1,200+ public schools. I have applied for principal, assistant principal, and teaching positions. Of the 20+ applications that I have submitted to various counties, I have had four interviews. Two interviews were for principal positions and two for assistant principal.Principal positions started posting in January. While I’ve only had a year and a half of administrative experience, I did not want to miss an opportunity. The selection for principal positions utilizes a democratic process that requires the SBDM (School-Based Decision Making) Council to vote and decide. Membership of the council consists of parents, teachers, and an administrator. The superintendent screens the applicants by reviewing their applications and conducting interviews. He or she then narrows down the pool and presents them to the SBDM Council. I admire Kentucky’s stance on education, as they firmly believe that “making decisions through shared decision-making results in a greater commitment to implementing decisions that will enhance the achievement of students.”
My first interview was a conference call while still in Vegas. And, let me tell you, I do not prefer phone interviews. I think part of your personality is lost and my nerves were even more heightened than normal. As a follow-up to the phone interview, I was given a performance event. This consisted of four questions that required detailed action plans in an essay-response. Questions ranged from analyzing benchmark data and identifying ways to coach teachers (individually and in grade level teams) in reading and in math to ensure the state goal is met. I was also asked to look at benchmark data and identify three school-wide strategies that I would implement to ensure the school reaches the state goal. Next, I had to explain how I would begin to establish a culture of excellence. And, in one sentence, tell why I was the best instructional leader for the school.
The second principal interview was a group interview with a school board, along with four other candidates. We took turns answering a question posed by the board, each having an opportunity to answer a question first. We built off of each other’s answers. Going last meant that you either had a lot of time to take notes or your ideas had already been expressed. Questions ranged from providing examples of appropriate instructional practices, how to create a culture of academic excellence, sharing strategies for teachers who repeatedly sent students to the office for minor disciplinary issues, and how to keep focus on doing what is best for improving student achievement. The group interview was followed up by a performance event (essay), asking me to share my primary vision and first priority as principal. I was asked to return for the second phase of interviewing, but the commute would have been two hours one way. I sadly declined. As an administrator, I couldn't spare four hours of my day commuting.
In April, assistant principal positions started posting. My first interview was with an assistant superintendent. She said she was very impressed, but informed me that the decision for hiring assistant principals is up to the principal. The next assistant principal interview consisted of a round table of 10+ professionals from that site, ranging from classroom teachers, speech/language pathologists, special education personnel, and the administrator. Questions included handling difficult parents, academic interventions, PBIS (positive behavioral intervention supports), experience with early childhood education, instructional strategies, and my approach to handling ineffective teachers.
The process for applying requires patience, tenacity, and faith. Some counties utilize applicant-tracking hardware. These programs take the paper out of the process by storing your application, resume, transcripts, and certificates. Many times you can transfer your electronic application and materials to another county if they use the same system. Other counties still rely on paper applications. Administrative interviews require a lot of preparation. You must research and study. You need to know how to put your ideas and experiences into words. You have to have a plan. It has been a slow and sometimes discouraging process. But, it has really made me reflect on my vision for a school and the action steps necessary for student success. While I can’t say too much now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay tuned.