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Posted on Tue, May 24, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

11 Ann Arbor schools to receive new principals next school year

By Kyle Feldscher

Ann Arbor Public Schools will have nine schools with new permanent principals next year and two middle schools with new assistant principals, all of which are coming from other Ann Arbor schools.

The district is facing many principal retirements at the elementary level, which led to the unusual number of schools getting new leaders next year, district spokesperson Liz Margolis said today.

Here are the schools and their new principals for next year:

  • Ann Arbor Open School — Kit Flynn, the media specialist at Ann Arbor Open.
  • Bryant Elementary SchoolRoberta Heyward, the interim principal at Bryant and a teacher at the school.
  • Burns Park Elementary SchoolVirginia Bell, assistant principal at Huron High School.
  • King Elementary School Kathy Morhous, principal at Burns Park.
  • Mitchell Elementary SchoolKevin Karr, principal at King.
  • Carpenter Elementary SchoolCharles Davis, the lead teacher at Haisley Elementary School.
  • Eberwhite Elementary SchoolBill Harris, the district’s assistant director of special education.
  • Haisley Kathy Scarnecchia, special administrator working on the Mitchell/Scarlett - University of Michigan Partnership and former principal at Mitchell.
  • Thurston Elementary School Natasha York, a teacher at Carpenter.

These two schools will get new assistant principals:

  • Forsythe Middle SchoolJohn Reece, assistant principal at Pioneer High School.
  • Scarlett Middle School Edward Broom, interim principal at Mitchell, who returns to his previous position at Scarlett.

Reece and Bell's positions at Pioneer and Huron will not be filled, as a part of the district's budget cuts for the 2011-12 school year. Margolis said she expects the media specialist position at Ann Arbor Open and the assistant director of special education position will be filled. She said whether the teaching positions are filled will come down to staffing and enrollment at Carpenter and Haisley, which should be determined soon.

The new principals were hired after a two-day interview process, Margolis said. The groups who interviewed the candidates were comprised of school staff, parents and administrators. There were 20 total candidates interviewed, Margolis said.

“The group interviews worked extremely well as the interview teams sought out the best candidate for their school,” she said.

Former Ann Arbor Open principal Naomi Zikmund-Fisher resigned from her position at the end of February after going on leave at the beginning of 2011 to return to graduate school. Flynn filled the principal position until the beginning of February when Tamber Woodworth, former principal at Pioneer High School took over the position until the end of the school year.

All of the principal positions that were not reassignments or new hires were vacated by retirements, Margolis said. 

The changes at Mitchell might be the most striking in a year that the partnership between Mitchell, Scarlett and the U-M School of Education is set to begin.

Scarnecchia will only serve as the principal at Haisley and will no longer be working on the Mitchell/Scarlett-UM partnership, Margolis said. Scarnecchia has “done the leg work” in getting the partnership off the ground and Margolis said Karr has lots of experience with the U-M School of Education to bring to the school.

In his letter to the Mitchell community, Karr said he was anticipating filling the leadership void left by Scarnecchia and Broom and looked forward to being a leader in the partnership.

“I understand that the leadership void left behind will need to be filled,” Karr said. “I intend to do my best to fill that void, working with you to make Mitchell School the best it can be.”

Meanwhile, Scarnecchia will be moving to a school she already has lots of experience with having attended Haisley when she was in elementary school.

She said in a letter to the Haisley community she looks forward to using the experience she has gained while working with leaders at U-M in her new position at Haisley, a place already close to her heart.

“Those are wonderful memories for me,” she said of her time at the school, “and I look forward to leading Haisley School and making it a place your children will remember for many years to come."

This is another major shake up of principals in the district, and Margolis said it was a positive statement about the district that all of the positions could be filled with people already in the district.

She said the reassignments would help get people in positions where they could best serve the district.

Margolis said some of the people who were reassigned approached the district asking for a new challenge and the district approached others and asked them to take over a new position. She said the group interview process allowed many schools to pick the leader they thought would best fit that school.

“We’re really proud that we have such a stellar group of people to bring into the leadership ranks, it really bodes well for the district,” Margolis said.



Thu, May 26, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.

Mitchel had enough of Scanecchia trying to make a name for herself the expense of the students. Beware Haisley. Your recent improvement with a good school principal is all for nothing. I suspect that Linda Carter had something to do about this move. Previous principal probbly challenged her to boost performance as a teacher and I guess she was not up to the task. Madison is all about bad history and is only at Dicken beacuse there is no place else to hide him. Just find some different corner and stick him in and return some credibility to the AAPS efforts to improve education in our schools. You can say anything you wish but this dynamic duo makes justification of efforts to improve our schools as worthless as anything that comes out of the mouth of LeAnn Dickensen-Kelly. The worst things that have occured to the AAPS over the lst three decades all lead to Madison's doorsteps. Dickensen-Kelly should realize that her ability to find a corner for Mr. Madison is not on the shouldr of the little students at Dicken School.


Thu, May 26, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

very accurate post. i wonder how many families/teachers will leave before the up-coming school year this time? it is a great mystery why nothing has been done the school, demographics?


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

@ Beachbaby - agreed ! There are several schools in the district of ann arbor that are suffering due to poor leadership and unfortunately none of them have gotten a new Principal. Why is that ? Northside and Dicken are perfect examples. The good teachers don't want to teach at them and the concerned parents are pulling their kids out of these schools. Why wouldn't they want to fix these problems by bringing in their best Principals to lead and fix? I suppose part of the problem is that they can't find anywhere to place the Principals that have not performed well.


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Kit Flynn was a great media specialist and will be a great principal. It's good to see Ann Arbor Open in such capable hands.


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

At the risk of sounding like sour grapes, I find it very sad that a school based on a lottery system gets the "good" principal/leader. Same with the school in an affluent neighborhood. I know the lottery system is open to "all", but we all know how that really works, the hoops that must be jumped through as far as paperwork, tours, etc...Meanwhile we have had at least two schools featured prominently in with leadership and community morale problems and absolutely NOTHING is addressed by AAPS or BOE. Imagine if a principal from one of these troubled schools was moved to Open or Burns Park? Never gonna happen. The powers-that-be will just keep sending out satisfaction surveys to the troubled schools until they get the numbers they need so it appears all is well.


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 11:35 a.m.

Smart of the senior folks to pull their retirement before the inevitable cuts.


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 11 a.m.

I am stunned that so many Principals are shifting and yet at a school like Dicken Elementary, that has been crying out loud for a new Principal due to the ineffective leadership the community has been putting up with for the last few years, nothing changes. I guess the district is inclined towards continuing the downturn at this small neighborhood school until the enrollement is so low that they can close it entirely. Very sad.


Thu, May 26, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

Geena, You have hit the nail on the head. If people in the neighborhood don't want to attend their own neighborhood school then why keep it open? Guess who will take credit for closing the school and saving the district lots of money. That would be Mr. Dick Prin. Madison and L. Dick-Kelly. The community will soon understand when home values decline because the neighborhood school is gone. The community has a right to a good principal. The community needs to demand it and demand it with great intensity. Neither Mr. Madison or Dickensen-Kelly are great supporters of our school community. It is a shame because Mr. Madison thinks/claims he is just because he lives in the geograpical area. Mr. Madison wore out his welcome even before he stepped through the doors at the school. A Bad reputation extends into past realtionships with former teaching associates, parents, students, and subordinates. What we know is shocking. What is hidden is outrageous.


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 4:42 a.m.

Kudos for choosing Kit Flynn to lead Ann Arbor Open. Open is a unique learning environment, one in which Kit has enjoyed her entire career. She understands the culture. Kids really look up to her (and so does this parent). She has proven herself as the capable "right hand" of previous principals. Most of all she is passionate about her job as an educator. So, thanks for choosing Kit Flynn and thanks to Kit Flynn for taking this step.

Tony Livingston

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

I am really glad they are hiring from within AAPS. Both Skyline and Pioneer principals were hired from elsewhere. I always wondered why.

Half a Hippie

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

I'm happy to hear that Kit Flynn will be the Ann Arbor Open principal! She has been with Ann Arbor Open since the Bach Open days, and she's wonderful.


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

Changing of the guard is the natrual order of things. I think what is happening is good teachers are being rewarded with an increase in pay and responsibilites, just as it should be. There are a lot of other good teachers out there, they just don't want the responsibility that comes with leading the school and would rather keep their skills focused on their students in the classroom. But I know the teacher bashers of the world won't see it this way, and I sit and wait for their devout wisdom about how Lenion has come back from his grave to control the educational decison making in our community. Congratulation to all of you retirees, I got your first round at Fraser's on the 17th~

Tina Richmond

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 4:11 a.m.

I may have missed something, but it looks to me like 70 teachers are getting "retired" while 10 administrators got promotions and likely raises. I'm thinking the comment might have been pro-teacher?


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 1:45 a.m.

It should be noted that Mr. Broom, prior to being interim principal at Mitchell, served as assistant principal at Scarlett for many years. In addition, he served as interim principal at Scarlett prior to current principal Mr. Vazquez's placement. Rather than a 'new' assistant principal it's more of a return to the status quo. Welcome back, Mr. Broom. Scarlett families are happy for the return. We also appreciate Ms. Peterson's service as interim assistant principal this semester.

Paula Gardner

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 10:19 a.m.

The story has been changed to reflect that.

Ross Dunbar

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

Dr. Bell will be a fantastic principal for Burns Park Elementary. The parents of students there should be very very pleased. She will be missed at Huron!

Jessica Webster

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 1:09 a.m.

That's great news, Ross. As a Burns Park parent, I'm very sad to see Kathy Morhous go. But it's great to hear that we'll have someone who comes highly recommended.


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

only the best Burns Park!


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 11:06 p.m.

I look more closely at people with lack of principal experience when I looked over the list above. And a high school asst. principal going to elementary school, very interesting in my mind. This should be an interesting few years for many of the people and their new jobs.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

I'd love to know what the incessant pattern of musical chairs does for teacher morale and continuity of school culture. In the past, A2 schools have been accused of shifting leadership instead of dealing with performance problems - any sign of that in this latest, greatest rearrangement?


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 10:57 a.m.

They obviously aren't dealing with performance at Dicken Elementary. Amazing to me that so many new Principals are assigned and they still keep an ineffective leader at this school .


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 12:30 a.m.

In several of these places, the current principal is leaving after a long period of leadership at the school, as opposed to a "musical chairs" situation. Many staff and community members are looking forward to fresh faces, new ideas, and the excellent track record of experience with our district that our new principals bring to their positions. Each one of these new principals is devoted to excellence!


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 10:21 p.m.

Such as Northside?


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

On the flip side, I wonder what it does for teacher morale when a principal that should be moved is not?