Carlmont’s staff feeling uncertain about administration change

The+inside+of+Carlmonts+administrative+office%2C+where+Mr.+Steunenbergs+office+is+located%2C+and+where+the+new+principal+will+work.

Lauren Elliott

The inside of Carlmont’s administrative office, where Mr. Steunenberg’s office is located, and where the new principal will work.

Sean Priest took control of Carlmont’s administration as interim principal, leading to uncertainty and curiosity from staff about the next semester of school and who the new principal will be.

Priest took over the role of principal this semester after the previous principal, Ralph Crame, left Carlmont High School. Crame left for a position as Assistant Superintendent of Business Services in another school district after 15 years at Carlmont.

Priest is the current principal of Sequoia High School, causing him to divide his time between two high schools within the Sequoia Union District.

“I plan to manage my split time this semester with help from amazing administrative teams and support staff at both schools, along with support from the Sequoia Union High School District Office team,” Priest said. 

Grant Steunenberg, the administrative vice-principal for sophomores and seniors, demonstrates confidence in Priest’s ability to manage two different high schools. 

“He has years of principal experience at Sequoia High School. He knows the policies and procedures that our district has in place and he is multifaceted in his ability to manage more than one site,” Steunenberg said.

My role at Carlmont has two main objectives: stewarding us through another successful semester and helping create the ideal conditions for hiring the best possible permanent replacement for Crame”

— Sean Priest

Along with his confidence in Priest, Steunenberg trusts the relationships built within the Carlmont administration to help guide the school in this leadership transition.

“Myself, Ms. Buckland, and Mr. Patner have all been here long enough so that we know all the policies and procedures at the school as well, so we will keep things moving in a good direction,” Steunenberg said.

Despite the confidence in Priest’s ability, however, both the administration and staff have concerns about the process of hiring a new principal, and if the new permanent principal will maintain the current atmosphere at Carlmont. 

“There’s a feeling of uncertainty about who the next person is going to be,” Steunenberg said. 

Kris Govani, a computer science teacher at Carlmont, shares her hopes for what she and other staff members look for in a new principal. 

“It is always a bit unsettling when there is a change in leadership. As teachers, we always want a principal who is fair to all and is a good communicator. Understanding the Carlmont community is important as well. Every school’s culture is a bit different, so you want a leader who will come in and get to know and respect it before attempting any changes,” Govani said.

Hiring a new principal will occur over this semester, and the decision will be made by the end of June. 

“The Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources (HR) will be heading up the selection process for the new principal. Part of that is that they contract with an outside agency to ask the stakeholders, parents, staff, students, and booster organizations, from multiple perspectives and gather their input about what they would like to see in the next principal they are hiring,” Steunenberg said.

Todd Beal, the Assistant Superintendent of HR, plays an essential role in hiring a new principal as he will lead the interview. 

“When they generate questions for the principal interview, they are going to make the interview questions through the lens of the information gathered from different stakeholders,” Steunenberg said.

This way, the interviewers will find the best possible candidate. The questions will reveal the attributes and requirements that the parents, students, and staff are looking for in the new principal. 

As for the time being, Carlmont will stay managed under Priest until July 1, when the new candidate will officially begin working under Carlmont’s contract.

“I care deeply about this community and believe we are connected across all our high schools.  It is a privilege to get to work with students, families, and staff in a broader role,” Priest said.