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Cora Kelly School for Math, Science & Technology Principal Search

Leadership Profile: Principal—Cora Kelly School for Science, Math, and Technology 

1.      Purpose

This LEADERSHIP PROFILE defines the specific attributes for the next principal of Cora Kelly School for Science, Math, and Technology. The profile reflects input from several stakeholder groups to include staff, parents, and community residents. Applicants and selection panels will use this profile to assess the candidate qualities of the position.

2.      Introduction and Background

The Alexandria City Public Schools initiated a search for the position of principal of Cora Kelly School for Science, Math, and Technology in June 2024, to replace the principal who resigned.

ACPS gathered information for the leadership profile from a community online survey with staff, parents, and community members. The online survey was open to the public. The survey requested participant comments about strengths of the school, challenges facing the school and qualities/attributes desired in a new leader. The survey enlisted comments from approximately thirty-one parents, community, and staff members.

As there was no requirement for participants to provide personal identifying information, there may have been some duplication of survey responses. There were, as will be evidenced later, several consistent themes in the survey responses.

Note, the data provided are not a scientific sampling, nor should they necessarily be construed as representing the majority opinion of the respective groups providing feedback.

As search consultant, I have reviewed the comments made and provided a summary of consistent themes in a concise manner to support the application, interview, and selection process for the new principal. This report, by its nature, cannot include all comments made. However, the detail of all feedback is available and will be maintained for an appropriate period.

The strengths, challenges and traits noted will be used to inform panelists about candidates to be interviewed. The successful candidate will be one who, through the interview and selection process, best fits the leadership profile. Ultimately, the selected principal will be a school leader who can provide excellent educational, social, and personal outcomes for students, staff, parents, and the community.

3.      Consistent Themes from the Online Survey

Strengths of Cora Kelly School

  • A small, tight-knit, and supportive community.
  • Knowledgeable, respected, professional, and caring staff.
  • Diversity of school and community.
  • Smaller school with small classes.
  • Inclusive environment.
  • Respect for the science, math, and technology focus.
  • Resource support.
  • Sense of community among the stakeholders.

Challenges for Cora Kelly School

  • Staff turnover, recruitment, and retention.
  • Understanding of cultural and language differences.
  • Funding/resources particularly for items not budgeted.
  • Timely communications.
  • Academic/instructional focus and direction.
  • Student conduct. 

Desired Personal Qualities/Attributes of Principal


·       Excellent listener and communicator.

  • ·Approachable/accessible.
  • Understanding and supportive of students, staff, and parents.
  • Respectful of others.
  • Flexible and creative.
  • Kind, warm, energetic, fair, and has a sense of humor.
  • Empathetic and collaborative.

Desired Professional Qualities/Attributes of Principal

  • Strong leader.
  • Supportive of students, staff, and parents.
  • Bilingual Spanish/English speaker.
  • Understanding of and champion for SPED, EL, and Title I.
  • Knowledgeable of child development and educational practices.
  • Communicative and engaging.
  • Community builder.
  • Experience with diverse population.
  • Collaborative, organized, and responsive.

4.      Sample Comments from the Online Survey.

Many of the comments centered around the principal, staff, and students at Cora Kelly. The following comments provide a brief commentary in this area:

              “Someone who is willing do to anything to help support the school”—Parent

              “Vast knowledge and experience of child development and education.”—Staff

              “The ability to set a good working example.”—Staff                                                                                

The following statements provide an overview of feedback from the online survey relative to attributes desired in the new principal:

  • “Excellent communication skills.”
  • “Must be a community builder—this is what made Cora Kelly a phenomenal school.”
  •  “Experience working with diverse populations.”
  •  “Supports the faculty and staff in order to retain them.”
  •  “Bilingual, Title I experience, servant leader…”
  •  “Someone who promotes inclusion and generally wants what’s best for students.”
  •  “Collaborative, efficient, knowledgeable, and has strong problem-solving skills.”
  • “Communicates with families using multiple modes.”
  • “Belief is power and necessity of community for educational success.”

5.   Instructions to Applicants.

A candidate should use this profile to make a self-assessment and determine how she/he best fits the qualities sought by the school community. These characteristics should be reflected in the content of the application. Should the applicant be selected for an interview, the candidate must demonstrate these qualities in the screening process. Generally, a strong principal should demonstrate leadership and management skills, inspire trust, and build support in the school and across the community. We seek a principal who can do adapt these qualities for the Cora Kelly School community.

6. Closing.

I extend my thanks to all who provided feedback via the online survey. Your time, effort and concern are most appreciated. We look forward to the selection of the best candidate as your next principal.

John Porter

School Principal Search Consultant
Department of Human Resources, ACPS 

Cora Kelly School For Science, Math, and Technology Principal Job Description

Job Description

Cora Kelly Principal Selection Process Timeline

June 2024

  • June 17, 2024 — Post job description and announcement.  Communicate the selection process to the school community.
  • June 17-July 8, 2024 — Review applications to select five to seven candidates for first round panel interviews.
  • June 20, 2024 — Post online survey for students, staff, families, and community members. 

July 2024

  • July 1, 2024 — Online survey closes.
  • July 5, 2024 — Post the results of the leadership survey online.
  • July 15 and 16, 2024 — First round panel interviews with the goal to narrow the candidates for second panel interviews.
  • July 18, 2024 — Second round panel interviews with the goal to narrow the candidates to two finalists. 
  • July 22, 2024 — Candidate finalists meet and greet with staff and PTA/Community in two separate virtual meetings. 
  • July 22, 2024 — The community virtual forums are posted online for three days for viewing and feedback.
  • June 22-25, 2024 — Staff, families and the community provide feedback on finalists from virtual meet and greet sessions.
  • July 29, 2024 — Individual interviews of two finalists with the Superintendent of Schools.

August 2024

  • August 8, 2024 — Candidate approved by the School Board.