Monday, March 5, 2018

Principal Turnover at Washington and Hamilton Middle Schools

In a coincidence both Susan Follmer and Tip Blish are stepping down this year.  Now is the time for parents  to get organized and push for a voice in the replacement process. There are few things more critical to a building's success than its principal.

Dear Washington Middle School Community,As you may be aware, Principal Susan Follmer will be retiring at the end of this school year.  Principal Follmer has worked hard to serve the Washington community for the past four years and we are thankful for her commitment and dedication to our school community.Looking forward, we are beginning the process of selecting the next principal for Washington Middle School for the 2018 – 2019 school year. The principal selection process is a great opportunity for the whole community to revisit priorities, values and hopes as they participate in the selection of a new principal. This letter articulates Seattle Public Schools’ hiring process for principals as well as the specific timeline for your school’s hiring process.
The Seattle Public Schools Principal Hiring ProcessThe following are the guidelines Seattle Public Schools uses when hiring for a principal:
  • The Superintendent has hiring authority at all times and may appoint or move a principal (or assistant principal) at any time.
  • Per the Principals’ Association Collective Bargaining Agreement, we consider the interest of principals and assistant principals for horizontal or vertical movement. The Chief of Schools reviews the requests and can make recommendations to the Superintendent if the person is a strong fit for the school.
  • If the Superintendent does not make an appointment or approve a transfer, Human Resources posts the position to candidates in our principal leadership pool. Internal and external applicants apply to be in the principal pool starting in January. From there, the school’s Executive Director of Schools works with the school’s Building Leadership Team (BLT) to form a hiring team that screens applications, interviews candidates and recommends their top 2-3 candidates to the superintendent. The superintendent then makes the final decision. Hiring teams typically consist of the following:
  • Elementary School – one primary teacher, one secondary teacher, two parents, one specialist (SPED, ELL, PE, Art, etc.), the administrative secretary or a classified representative, 1-2 school or central office administrators, and one to two executive directors. The total would be 9-10 members on the team.
  • Secondary School – three core instruction teachers (or two core teachers and one specialist), three parents/guardians or community representatives, the administrative secretary or a classified representative, one instructional assistant, 1-2 school or central office administrators, and 1-2 executive directors. The total would be 11 or 12 members on a team.
  • There are times where the Superintendent will recommend a candidate be hired with an “interim” status. This usually takes place when a position has not filled by a specific date, usually in mid to late August, or a position comes open after the student school year has started.
The Timeline for Hiring a Principal for Washington Middle SchoolWe are moving to open hiring for Washington Middle School. The following is the approximate timeline:
  • Mid-February:  We will post the principal position for applicants who have been screened into the SPS principal pool.
  • Early March: Sarah Pritchett Executive Director of Schools, will work with the staff and community to determine desired characteristics of the new principal.
  • Early/Mid-March: Sarah Pritchett will work with the Building Leadership Team (BLT) to form a formal interview team made up of staff and families.
  • Mid-March: The interview team will select candidates to interview, interview those candidates and then select 2-3 finalists. The superintendent will interview the finalists, make the final decision and announce the new principal to the community.
We are looking for parents who are interested in serving on the interview team who represent the diversity of our school community. If you are interested in being considered for the interview team, please contact Assistant Principal, Devin Murphy, at who will share your names with the Building Leadership Team.Sincerely,Mike Starosky, Ed.D.Chief of Schools, Assistant Superintendent

January 31, 2018
Dear Hamilton International Middle School Community,
I am sharing an announcement I made to the Hamilton staff on Tuesday: This summer, my family is moving overseas, and I will resign as principal effective July 1. This is a wonderful opportunity for our two daughters for Bridget and me; her work is taking us to London for two years, and we are thrilled to share an immersive, international experience. But it is taking me away from the very best work I can imagine. 
I am extremely optimistic about Hamilton and about the direction we are headed but bitter I won’t be here to share in its future and work alongside you, the educators here, and, best of all, the wonderfully diverse, creative, quirky, inspiring Hamilton students. 
I will leave a school and community that’s in a great place – not where we want to be but clear on where we’re headed. Our students are performing at the highest levels of middle school students anywhere around and that’s been increasing year over year since I got here. That as true for our students of color as it is for our white students even though we know that the gap between those two groups of students remains unacceptable. 
I am especially encouraged by the leadership and focus of our teachers and support staff. They are strong educators individually but have been increasingly working together to make a Hamilton education even better for every student who walks in our doors. That’s taken the form of collaborating on aligning curriculum in math and science as well as work on making this school a place of learning that is welcome and is place where each student and family feels they belong. 
As you likely know, Hamilton is supported by a group of family volunteers on the PTSA and the Friends of Music at Hamilton International whose work is infused with thoughtfulness, innovation, care, and commitment to what we do here.
Hamilton has a bright future and an amazing community of people to take it there.
Jon Halfaker, Executive Director of Schools, will lead the process to find the next Hamilton principal. He knows the school and its community very well. As soon as that process is prepared, he or I will let you know.
In so many ways, I wish I were not writing this letter—if I listed the ways, this already long letter would be even longer. I love this work, love this school, and love its community. And it will be personally very hard to leave it. It’s small but important comfort that I will hand over the keys to a great, great middle school.
I look forward to seeing you over the next six months,


Unknown said...

Yes. Tip is leaving. He sent an email to the community at Hamilton.

Mom of 2 boys

Benjamin Leis said...

If someone will send me that mail I will post it too.

Anonymous said...

I just sent you the message from Tip.

Hamilton mom

Anonymous said...

FYI, hiring process is already underway at Hamilton. Interviews as early as next week.

Anonymous said...

good riddance fulmer.

Anonymous said...

HIMS interview now slated for March 27.

JLardizabal said...

Washington MS families are invited to meet with Sarah Pritchett, Executive Director of High and Middle Schools, from 6pm-7:30pm on Wednesday, March 21. Please come share your input regarding the principal search process. Those unable to attend the meeting may email Assistant Principal Devin Murphy at with your ideas and comments.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that there is no such executive director meeting with Jon Hafaker for the Hamilton principal position and search process. Why is this OK?

Anonymous said...

Anyone heard any rumors that HCC at Eaglestaff will be moved to Whitman?

Anonymous said...

The new principal of HIMS was announced. Interesting that the announcement mentioned strengthening the dual language pathway to Lincoln, but left out any mention of serving HCC students in a program who make up a majority of the school.

Dear Hamilton International Middle School community,

I am pleased to announce that Mr. Dorian Manza has been selected as the new principal for Hamilton International Middle School. As the current principal of Lawton Elementary, and as a prior assistant principal of Whitman Middle School, Mr. Manza brings a strong background in instructional leadership that will benefit the students, staff, and community of Hamilton. His focus on relationships, collaboration, family engagement, racial equity, and the social-emotional well-being of all students stood out during his interview with the Hamilton hiring team. He is excited to continue the work around strengthening the newly announced dual-language pathway to Lincoln High School, as well as the overall academic achievement of all students served by the Hamilton instructional community.

In addition to his leadership at Lawton and Whitman, Mr. Manza has also served on our Principal Professional Development team, helping to lead the learning that all our principals receive around race, equity, instruction, and systems improvement. Prior to coming to Seattle in 2011, Mr. Manza served as a Dean of Students and middle school classroom teacher with Edmonds School District. He is excited to return to working with middle school students, staff, and families.

Mr. Manza is a graduate of the Washington State University, and earned his Master of Educational Leadership and his principal credentials from City University.

Thank you to Tipton Blish for his leadership as principal at Hamilton International Middle School for the past three years.

Mr. Manza is committed to building on the strong foundation Principal Blish and the Hamilton staff have created.

Principal Manza is looking forward to working with the Hamilton students, staff, families and community members to make a difference for each student, every day. Mr. Manza’s official start date will be July 1, 2018, however, I know he will spend significant amounts of time in the coming weeks and months to meet with Mr. Blish, the staff, and especially the students and families to ensure a strong transition for the Hamilton community.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Dorian Manza to the Hamilton International School community.


Mike Starosky, Ed.D.

Assistant Superintendent, Chief of Schools

J Lardizabal said...

The new principal at WMS has also been announced:

Dear Washington Middle School community,
I am pleased to announce that Ms. Emily Butler has been selected to be the new principal of Washington Middle School. The interview team which consisted of teachers, classified staff, parents, community members, and central office staff, was particularly impressed by Ms. Butler’s thoughtful leadership approach to supporting instructional practice for staff and strategies for engaging the community on a deeper level.
Ms. Butler is joining Seattle Public Schools from Indianapolis Public Schools, where she has been the principal at George Washington Community High School since 2014. Ms. Butler led turnaround efforts at the school, which serves grades 7-12. Under her leadership, the school saw improvements in graduation rates, growth in math proficiency (grades 7-9 averaged 2.6 years of growth), and improved school climate and safety. Ms. Butler previously served in Baltimore City Public Schools as an assistant principal, building literacy leader, and instructional guide, and as the director of planning and performance in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in the District of Columbia. Ms. Butler’s experience has centered around developing staff and environments to improve academic outcomes for all students.
Ms. Butler holds a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Social Policy and English from Northwestern University; Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University; and Master of Science in Education with a concentration on Organization and Leadership from Columbia University.
Thank you to Principal Susan Follmer for her leadership at Washington Middle School, we wish her the best in her retirement. Principal Butler is committed to building on the strong foundation that Principal Follmer and the Washington community have built.
Principal Butler is looking forward to meeting students, staff and families, and working together to support student learning. Ms. Butler’s start date will be July 1.
Please join me in thanking Principal Follmer, and welcoming Principal Butler.

Dr. Mike Starosky, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent, Chief of Schools