Halimi joins administration as asst. principal

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Robert Katz, web editor-in-chief

The Board of Education voted to appoint English teacher Michelle Halimi as assistant principal for the 2014-2015 school year on Tuesday, April 22. Halimi will partially fill the administrative void left by departing assistant principals Amy Golden and Dr. Regina Zurbano, in addition to retiring assistant principal Toni Staser.

Halimi, who is also the Service Learning teacher, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) coordinator, English teacher and Beverly alumna (2002), looks at her new role on campus as a positive opportunity.

“I am very excited to be the assistant principal at Beverly,” Halimi said. “It’s actually something I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve had my administrative credential for a few years, so it’s just exciting to start a new chapter.”

Among her goals as assistant principal, Halimi wants to maintain a “positive learning community for families, staff and students,” as well as help adjust teachers to the Common Core, the new federal education standards.

Among the district Board of Education members who voted to appoint Halimi is Dr. Brian Goldberg.

“I voted for Ms. Halimi because of her deep connection and commitment to Beverly and the fact that she understands Beverly, being an alum,” Goldberg said. “She’s someone who’s been teaching there for some time now and in particular I was impressed with her roles and responsibilities with regard to the WASC accreditation committee and the work that she did for that committee.”

Superintendent Gary Woods shared the high praise for Halimi.

“We believe Ms. Halimi is a young and upcoming administrator,” Woods said. “She’s a fantastic teacher. We believe she has the personality, the work ethic and the desire to become a really strong administrator.”

Principal Carter Paysinger also looks optimistically to Halimi’s future as an administrator.

“I think she’ll do a fine job,” Paysinger said. “She’s a great teacher [and] she did a great job with leading the WASC accreditation process. I think she can be a fantastic administrator. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen in the future, but I think she’s very capable.”

Halimi, whose sole administrative work has been as a WASC coordinator during the school’s accreditation, credited her eight years of teaching as a crucial asset for administrative work.

“I think [teaching experience] makes being an administrator a lot easier,” Halimi said, “because I’m able to understand what teachers are dealing with in the classroom, both their successes and their struggles, so I think that alone is going to be invaluable to my work as an administrator.”

Typically, prospective administrators would apply to work at Beverly through EDJOIN, a database used by educators to check for job postings in almost every school district in California. Beverly selects their employees by reviewing and interviewing a pool of these applicants.

The district chose to appoint  Halimi as soon as possible to ensure a stable transition to the new administration staff, which will begin working at Beverly on July 1.

“We needed someone in place now who can follow the transition,” Woods said. “We only have a month left. We have a lot going on right now so we need to get someone in place so she can oversee the transition that happens.”

However, Halimi was preferred over candidates from outside Beverly, as the board “wanted to give continuity to our administration at the high school so they really understand [Beverly],” Goldberg said. As a result, Halimi’s appointment process was “abbreviated.”

According to Halimi, little to no paperwork or bureaucratic machinery was involved on her part in accepting the position.

“There were some conversations, but ultimately it was just an appointment,” Halimi said.

Appointed administrators are usually either given a contract specifying one year of employment or are notified by March 15 of the following year of whether or not they will be kept for another school year. However, some administrators, such as Paysinger and Horace Mann’s principal Steve Kessler are given two-year contracts.

As of the time of interview, Halimi was unsure of who would fill her current roles in the school.

“That’s something that Mr. Paysinger and I need to discuss,” Halimi said. “We haven’t sat down and talked about who would take over Service Learning or Link Crew or WASC coordinator position.”

Although every board member has a separate philosophy regarding the proper criteria to be met by school employees, Goldberg outlined the mental rubric he applies when reviewing administrator evaluations.

“Most important to me is [their] evaluation of teachers and whether or not that has been done satisfactorily,” Goldberg said. “Number two is, are we implementing board policies and district policies? If an administrator is not implementing or following district policy, that would be a reason why I would not vote to renew a person in that position. The third thing is just personality, and if they’re a good fit with the team. Especially at the high school, we have a team that all fits and works together well.”

Goldberg and Woods would not comment on why Golden and Zurbano were not offered continued employment as administrators at Beverly, out of respect for their privacy.

As well, Golden, Staser and Zurbano declined to speak to Highlights.

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