Gay Buckland-Murray joins the administration

Instructional+vice+principal+Gay+Buckland-Murray+checks+attendance+in+her+office.+

Niamh Marren

Instructional vice principal Gay Buckland-Murray checks attendance in her office.

Carlmont High School’s administrative team has selected Gay Buckland-Murray to become the new instructional vice principal.

The position’s opening tasked Carlmont with finding someone fit to fill the vacancy. Applicants underwent a long, careful process to ensure the best candidate was selected.  Ultimately, it was decided that Buckland-Murray was best for the job.  

The position’s hiring process was divided into four main phases, each narrowing down the candidate list.

In the initial phase, Jacqueline McEvoy, assistant superintendent of human resources, posted an opening online for the instructional vice principal of Carlmont. In response, applicants sent in documents, applications, and resumes. After these were reviewed, seven potential hirees remained.

In the second phase, office personnel and people from Carlmont who would work closely with the future hiree were selected to form a panel. The candidates underwent the first round of interviews via Zoom, after which the committee narrowed it down to three candidates.

The third phase included a second round of interviews held in person to get a better sense of each individual. After the interviews, the final two applicants met with Principal Ralph Crame and former Superintendent Mary Streshly, who decided to hire Buckland-Murray.

When the Sequoia Union High School District is looking to hire a new instructional vice principal, it searches for someone with a specific background in understanding professional development, teacher management, and conducting a master schedule.

“Besides communication and organization skills, they [the District] are looking for someone who has an understanding of professional development and can understand the teacher’s role to support, guide, and help them grow. When they go through the interview process, they are looking for skill sets and experiences that could dovetail with that,” Administrative Vice Principal Gregg Patner said.

To be an administrator is really to be part of a team, and it has been wonderful to discover that same teamwork and camaraderie here at Carlmont. It is really special to be part of that unit.”

— Gay Buckland-Murray

Buckland-Murray stood out compared to the other candidates because of her previous educational experience. She worked at Woodside High School for 27 years as a French teacher and was the head of the World Language Department. She also coached junior varsity basketball, cross country, and distance track before transitioning into leadership roles in the past four years.

“Mrs. Buckland-Murray was a summer school principal, and we saw a successful administrative role she had there. Being a summer school principal is a difficult job because you are only the administrator, so you deal with all of the aspects of running a school. She did that successfully, and I thought that was very impressive,” Crame said. 

As an instructional vice principal, her requirements differ from Administrative Vice Principals Grant Steunenberg and Patner.  She provides help for teachers and ensures that they have the necessary tools to succeed during the school year.  

“My primary focus is to help support the teachers both in training and in the classroom. During distance learning, it is all about making sure teachers have computers and connections that work. I spend my time making sure teachers know how to create a successful online experience rather than a successful live experience,” Buckland-Murray said.

Besides supporting teachers, one of the primary responsibilities of an instructional vice principal is to conduct a master schedule. For the master schedule to run smoothly, the vice principal works closely with the guidance staff to ensure every student’s course requests are collected and accounted for. From there, they discuss how many teachers should be assigned to teach each subject and how many classes to offer for each course. The primary goal of creating a sufficient master schedule is to create one with the fewest conflicts for students.  

With a new member of the administrative team, interactions are essential for a great bond. However, with distance learning extended until the end of the fall semester, one has to go out of the way to form connections with new coworkers. Alec Perkins, a junior, describes the difficulties of adding a new member to administration.

“The only way an administrative team would be able to create a reliable bond with a new coworker would be to put themselves out there as much as possible, to support and encourage each other,” Perkins said.

Despite the challenges distance learning adds to her position, Buckland-Murray is well equipped for the task.  She brings many positive factors to the administration team, and the other members of the administration are confident in her abilities.

“Mrs. Buckland-Murray brings great enthusiasm, and she has a tremendous work ethic. Her overall demeanor has been really positive, and she exudes confidence, and she gives people confidence that she can do the job,” Crame said. 

One of the most challenging aspects of distance learning for educators is the lack of understanding of what works for students and what doesn’t. So much of what teachers and administrators do is based on live interactions with students, which is completely lost during distance learning. The skills and assets that Buckland-Murray brings to the administrative team will ideally lead to an improvement in distance learning for the Carlmont community.

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