Clarke County School Superintendent Demond Means was “surprised” and “disappointed” that Chase Street Elementary Principal Andrea Neher resigned earlier this month, he said in an email to parents and staff last week.
Neher abruptly left her job June 14, saying that, although Chase is one of the highest-performing schools in the district, Means had told her she had “more than fallen short in meeting his expectations.” Just days later, she became principal of Winder Elementary in Barrow County.
Here is the full letter:
Over the past several days, the district has received some feedback, questions, and concerns regarding the sudden resignation of Dr. Andrea Neher as principal of Chase Street Elementary School. In addition, we have received many questions about the process of evaluating school leaders within CCSD.
Like many of our families and staff, I was surprised by Dr. Neher’s resignation after her first year as principal. I believed she had a promising future as a school leader in CCSD. I am disappointed that she decided to leave the district.
As I have said before, Chase Street is a wonderful school known for its high student achievement and an engaged community that has truly rallied around the school. Although Chase has performed well in the aggregate, more focused attention to the performance of all students, especially the students in the greatest area of need at Chase, is essential for the next phase of sustained continuous improvement for the school.
The evaluation of all principals—especially first-year principals—is essential to our overall continuous improvement efforts as a school district. The performance evaluation process is an opportunity for reflection and professional development for all of our leaders. Feedback is given as a means of increasing professional capacity, not a criticism of an individual’s skills. Our district leadership team continues to be committed to providing support for all school leaders in their unique areas of growth. The sharing of information from this reflective and introspective process is highly unusual.
We are seeking principals whose leadership behaviors purposefully shape positive student achievement and teacher reaction to student underperformance consistently and with a sense of urgency. As a school district, we are focused on ensuring success for all students. And when we say all, we truly mean all.
The process to select the next principal of Chase Street Elementary has already begun. We will look to recruit and select an instructional leader who is mindful of school performance needs, committed to ensuring that all students achieve to their full potential and continuing to focus on meeting high expectations.
We all want what is best for our children. I ask that you continue to support your school and keep pushing for the achievement of all students. In conclusion, I am reminded of a quote from Margaret Wheatley when she said, “It’s not differences that divide us. It is our judgments about each other that do.” (Wheatley, 2009, p.40).
I look forward to working with all of you to find the next principal to serve Chase Street Elementary School.
Because assistant principal Sabrina Lumpkin had been transferred to Barnett Shoals Elementary, Chase is without both top administrators, with teachers returning to work in less than five weeks.