Amplifying student voice has been a shared priority among South Orangetown schools for some time. Throughout this school year, District communications are highlighting the various avenues through which our students are taking on leadership roles to enhance programming, operations and school culture.
More than 100 applicants responded to South Orangetown Middle School’s assistant principal opening last month. After an extensive review and screening process led by Director of Staff Relations Joseph Lloyd, Ph.D. and SOMS Principal Chad Corey, Ed.D., six candidates were brought forward to an interview committee composed of parents, staff and administrators. Ultimately, two finalists were invited to return to SOMS for a building tour and additional interviews with staff, administrators–and students.
Including students in the final round was an essential component of the District’s decision-making process. “There is nothing more important than making sure that we are hiring the best candidates to work with our students,” Corey said. “Our students offer a perspective that no adult could provide. The value of including them in this process was instrumental.”
“As representatives of the student body, we put together questions based on what we thought students were looking for in an assistant principal,” explained Kayla G., an eighth-grader.
So what are SOMS students looking for in an administrator?
“How a person makes sure that everyone’s voice is heard and is someone students feel comfortable speaking to,” Arturo G., a sixth-grader, offered.
“We would like someone who celebrates different cultures, is engaged in and supportive of school events and has new ideas to make our school better,” added seventh-grader Ellery C.
Sabrina G., an eighth-grader, emphasized that students were seeking an assistant principal who truly connects with them. “We’re looking for someone who is willing to listen and care for us and to understand us, our needs and what we go through in and out of school.”
None of the four student representatives had participated in an interview process before and all were appreciative of the opportunity.
“It’s important for students to be seen and to participate. It’s also important to hear how candidates respond to a question asked by a student versus a question that a teacher may ask,” noted Kayla. “Including students in this process helps make us more comfortable with having our perspectives heard.”
“It was a great learning experience. Our opinions and voices matter,” Sabrina said. “Working with students is one of the biggest parts of the job. It’s not only about whether a candidate can handle the office work, but also how they treat the students. This is our learning journey and having someone who supports us in that is important.”
“I couldn’t agree more with Sabrina. Student voice is an integral part of our District’s decision-making. We’re appreciative of the time and insight that our students provided us in our hiring process and we are very excited to welcome Dr. Rodriguez to our District,” noted Lloyd.