January 6, 2014

Five parents attended the Saturday morning meeting with Carroll Community School District superintendent Rob Cordes and board members LaVerne Dirkx and Duane Horsley to outline what characteristics they hoped to see in Carroll High's new principal.

Technologically saavy, and visibility and approachability in the realms of both the school district and the community, were named as key characteristics by all attendees.

Parents cited the district's one-to-one laptop initiative, the 3-D printer in the industrial-arts department, and the pursuit of different teaching styles, such as the flipped classroom, as evidence of Carroll's position on the "cutting edge" of technology innovation.

Ann McCartan, middle-school nurse and parent of one high school and two middle school students in the district, said she believes the focus on technology is better-preparing students to go into the workforce or to college.

Karen Friedlein, Des Moines Area Community College instructor and parent of one middle school student in the district, as well as a Kuemper Catholic School System student, said that, like other teaching methods, not all students learn the same with technology, adding that it is also important for the new principal to be "cognizant" of different methods and platforms in which to utilize technology.

Parents also proposed selecting a candidate with experience managing large projects and cooperating with other districts, referencing the possibility of a campaign for a new football stadium.

Several parents also said that the principal's visibility should be equal throughout departments and extracurricular activities, and that the administrator should be able to listen to representatives from all areas and give each equal weight.

"Who the district hires has an impact on our children," said McCartan, who expressed surprise at the low turnout. "I wanted to listen to other people's thoughts too."

Cordes said the board's approach in hiring the next high school principal is different than its approach in past administrative hires. In the past, a committee of stakeholders conducted the interviews. The committee included board members, staff, administrators, coaches and parents. This time, the process will include meetings with the entire staff, a range of students, an open forum with parents, an interview with the board and a meeting with community leaders.

"You don't get a very wide-angle lens," said Cordes of the traditional process. "We wanted a bigger cross-section of these groups."