Gateway Superintendent’s Corner


I am pleased to announce that Mr. Jason Finne has accepted the position of Junior/Senior High School Principal for the Gateway District. In a process that took just over a month to complete, Mr. Finne was selected from an applicant pool of ten candidates. From the initial screening committee of 17 people, including staff, parents and community members, to meetings with staff, administrators, and students, our finalists went through an extensive process to obtain the information needed to select the new principal.
It was very helpful to have the screening committee review applications, develop interview questions, and conduct interviews to move two finalists forward in the process. Both finalists then spent a day in the district. During this day, meetings were set up with administrators, during which various qualities of each candidate were explored, providing an opportunity for administrators to see how each candidate would work with the leadership team. The candidates also had the chance to meet with staff members after school during which a wide range of questions were asked and a general sharing of perspectives took place. Although there was time set aside for the public to meet the candidates, very few members of the public took this opportunity to interact with the candidates.
One of the more interesting question and answer sessions took place over lunch with a small group of students. The students had spent significant time gathering input from other students regarding a new principal and had developed a number of questions to determine how each candidate fit the ‘profile’ of what they were looking for in a principal. In meeting with these students later in the week, they had not distinctly come down in favor of either candidate. In fact, much of our discussion (as with my meeting with staff members) focused on what they felt were positives for both candidates and which person would best move the district forward. All of the students felt that the Junior/Senior High School was in a good place in terms of school climate, respect for students, and meeting their academic needs and that both finalists would be able to move the district forward and improve an already good school. I found their comments, discussion, and insight particularly valuable, both in terms of helping to select a principal and in terms of recognizing that they were being proactive, positive, and using critical thinking skills in completing this process. This is truly what we should be aiming for in providing a ‘whole child’ education, not just a set of scores on standardized tests that to date cannot measure this level of educational success.
I truly appreciate all of the input from each person that participated in this process, including the many people ‘behind the scenes’ who added insight into each candidate from individuals that they knew who worked or lived in the candidates’ school districts. I believe that this was a very valuable process that provided me with insights that I would not have been able to gather simply by interviewing candidates myself. As with all of our hires, the opportunity to get input from a variety of individuals is very helpful in selecting the best people for the district.
Despite all of this information, this was still a difficult decision for me because I felt that each candidate brought a unique set of talents, skills, and perceptions to the table and that both would be great choices for moving us forward. In the end, the decision finally rested on the candidate that most of the people involved in the process felt could unify the Junior/Senior High School by including all of the school’s constituencies, in whom they could see themselves in a collaborative partnership as we work instituting the new common core standards and staff evaluation process, and who the students thought would be most approachable in working to build a respectful school climate.

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