McKenzie: Tech, visibility important in principal
Remaining three candidates to be interviewed throughout the week
February 19, 2014
In three years, Tammie McKenzie believes the media center will be a key stop on a tour of Carroll High School.
She compares her vision for the media to center to that of a modern college library - traditional in its housing of books collections, but with break-out areas designed to accommodate collaborative work, experiential labs and possibly even a green room for shooting and editing video in addition to other multimedia work.
"It's not that kids don't go there now, but I think it could be more active and interactive," she said of the library's place in this 21st century world of technology. "We want to be on the cutting edge."
McKenzie, currently the assistant principal at Carroll High School, was the first of four candidates interviewed for the principal position left open when Steve Haluska abruptly resigned two weeks into the current school year. Other candidates are Rusty Shockley, former agriculture educator and current principal of Central Lee High School in Donnellson; John Elkin, principal at Webster City High School in Webster City; and Doug Gee, activities director for the Adel DeSoto Minburn Community School District in Adel.
The day-long interview process includes a session with parents each day from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. at the high school. Shockley, Elkin and Gee will be interviewed throughout the rest of the week.
Responding to parents' questions, McKenzie added that her view of the Carroll Schools' future includes highlighting technology not as a way to eliminate pencil and paper, but as a way to connect globally.
Originally from the area, McKenzie returned to the Carroll district as an art teacher, working four years before moving to her current administrative position nine years ago. This year she has been sharing the responsibilities of principal with consultant Trent Grundmeyer in addition to continuing her duties as assistant principal.
But rather than leave her stressed about the chaos, the year has left her hungry for more, she said. Her experience with the staff is an advantage, she added, citing studies that show longevity increases individuals' abilities to work together.
She said her time as an art teacher has also given her the ability to offer constructive criticism - something she never felt she received.
"(The staff) knows my constructive criticism is pretty well-founded and that I give ideas on how to get better. It's a two-way street," she said. "You have to separate emotion from the situation at hand. Things have to be addressed, and I'm not intimidated to do it."
In addition to the importance of technology, McKenzie highlighted visibility and engagement with staff, students and parents as key characteristics of a high school principal.
"I try to be in my office as little as possible," she said, adding that she would much rather be sitting in on classes and interacting with students and teachers. "It's important that they know you care, that you are watching and observing."
McKenzie also believes parents are comfortable with her, and hopes to engage more parents by providing more times and opportunities for them to get involved, envisioning a sort of parent professional development that would connect parents to teachers who could explain how and why they do what they do in the classrooms.
The last three books she read were "Who Owns the Learning" by Alan November, a handbook on how to incorporate technology into classrooms; "Mindset" by Carol Dweck, which examines the difference between growth and non-growth attitudes and how to manage and engage each; and Doreen Virtue's "Divine Guidance," described by McKenzie as a spiritual getaway.
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