Final two principal candidates chosen

Community partakes in decision process

Interviews+for+principal+began+March+8-12%2C+and+Park+has+now+advanced+to+the+last+round+of+interviews+with+two+candidates+remaining.+The+final+decision+for+principal+will+be+made+at+the+April+12+school+board+meeting.+

File photo by Maggie Klaers

Interviews for principal began March 8-12, and Park has now advanced to the last round of interviews with two candidates remaining. The final decision for principal will be made at the April 12 school board meeting.

A month after initiating the search for a permanent principal at Park, superintendent Astein Osei has narrowed down the pool of potential candidates down to two. He contributes this decision largely to the solidity among stakeholder groups in who they thought would be a good fit. 

“It made it an easier decision to narrow it down to these two because of the level of consistency from the stakeholder groups and their beliefs about these candidates’ ability to successfully lead our high school,” Osei said. 

According to Osei, there were about 50 stakeholders who participated in the first round, and around 38 who were involved in the second round. These groups consisted of anyone ranging from a student, or staff member to a district level administrator. 

Social studies teacher Carly Kregness, who was a part of the stakeholder groups that played a role in Osei’s decision, said she participated in the interviews because the principal selection is vital to the well-being of the school.

“(I chose to be a part of the stakeholder groups) because having a good principal is incredibly important to the success of the school,” Kregness said. “The principal sets the tone for the school and sets priorities and I care about having a good principal.”

It’s really important to me to pick someone that would not only be able to lead us, but someone that would keep St. Louis Park’s core beliefs in mind, and be able to help students thrive”

— Amira Abdirahman

According to sophomore Amira Abdirahman, another community stakeholder, the decision about the principal is crucial to her because of students’ need for support. 

“It’s really important to me to pick someone that would not only be able to lead us, but someone that would keep St. Louis Park’s core beliefs in mind, and be able to help students thrive,” Abdirahman said. “I’m confident either (candidate) would be a good fit for St. Louis Park.”

LaNisha Paddock, who is currently the Principal of Battle Creek Middle School, and Xavier Reed, who works as the Associate Principal at Irondale High School, are the two candidates that Osei has chosen to move forward with in the final round of interviews. 

Though each round of interviews consisted of strong candidates, the two finalists stuck out to Osei due to their skills in teamwork and passion for working with students. 

“Both of the candidates demonstrated a great deal of excitement and love and care for students. They appeared to be really student centered in their leadership and approach,” Osei said. “Both of the candidates came across as being really collaborative leaders, people who valued the perspectives and opinions of others and wanted to work together creatively to solve challenges that may come up in the school setting.”

Junior stakeholder Sumaya Moalim said she is pleased with the final contenders, but they have room to improve.

“I am satisfied because they are my favorites. They had the best answers and they were really enthusiastic,” Moalim said. “(The candidates could improve on) being open-minded … We want somebody who takes in students’ voices and who also values what the teachers think.”

Osei noted the racial disparities in education among students in Minnesota, and in Park as well, and felt motivated by the candidates’ attention to the need for equality among students.

What excited me about these candidates is that both of them … share a similar frame that it’s the adults’ responsibility to find ways to connect students in a way that helps their brilliance be elevated”

— Astein Osei

“Every student has gifts, and it’s our responsibility as educators to figure out how to tap into that brilliance and to support students as they move through their high school experience,” Osei said. “What excited me about these candidates is that both of them … share a similar frame that it’s the adults’ responsibility to find ways to connect students in a way that helps their brilliance be elevated.”

Kregness said after witnessing different rounds of interviews, she feels that either candidate would fill the role well and would look forward to working with either one. 

“I thought they were both excellent and I would be happy to have either one of them as principal,” Kregness said.

Osei will begin to finish up the process this week by completing the final round of interviews with the candidates. By Friday, he said he hopes to have made his decision and be able to offer the position to one of the candidates. The school board will then be able to vote during the next meeting April 12, granting the final decision for the 2021-22 principal. 

“My hope is that for sure by Friday I would have called one of these two candidates and have offered them the position,” Osei said. “Certainly (I) can let them know how excited I am about their potential candidacy and see if they would be interested in engaging in some negotiations potentially around taking the position.”