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Kathy Duncan and Joe Jablonski spoke of their vision for the school and took questions from parents, teachers and other community members.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Finalists for Patrick Henry High School principal met with the community Monday where they fielded questions on everything from student discipline to how to recruit and maintain great teachers in lean economic times.
Kathy Duncan, principal of the Roanoke Technical Education Center, and Joe Jablonski, a Patrick Henry assistant principal, were named as finalists for the post last week. Current Principal Connie Ratcliffe is retiring after six years leading the Roanoke school, one of the largest in the valley.
Each candidate was brought in one at a time and took questions from the audience for about 30 minutes. Afterward, Superintendent Rita Bishop asked the audience about each candidate’s strengths and challenges.
Both Duncan and Jablonski spoke of the importance of building on the school’s strong foundation and connecting with students to make sure they graduate.
“My goal here, and it’s a lofty one, I want 100 percent graduation,” Jablonski said. “Anything short of that, then why are we here?”
Duncan spoke similarly, talking about the importance of getting students to graduate, saying educators must find what “sparks” students.
When asked about student discipline, she said it’s important to talk with students and make sure they know the consequences of actions. She said she also expects teachers to handle discipline in the classroom as much as possible, but would be there for support.
Jablonski also said he wants educators to talk to students and said most students behave.
Both talked about the importance of supporting teachers, particularly in lean economic times.
“When it comes to retaining teachers, it’s giving them the resources they need,” Duncan said, adding such things as good communication don’t cost money.
Several dozen people, including parents, community members and teachers, attended the hour-and-half-long meeting.
When it came time for them to weigh in, they cited Duncan’s lengthy experience in administration as a major attribute. They also said she was personable, energetic and quick on her feet, particularly, in Monday’s forum.
Duncan, 53, has been the Roanoke Technical Education Center principal and the system’s career technical education director since July 2009. The center operates in a separate building on the Patrick Henry campus and offers career and technical training.
Before becoming principal, Duncan was a health and medical science teacher at Patrick Henry from 1999 to 2007 and later a teacher on administrative assignment at ROTEC.
But people also noted her lack of experience teaching core subjects as a challenge, as well as the fact Patrick Henry is much larger than ROTEC.
Jablonski, 40, has been with Roanoke schools since 2007. He was first an English language learners specialist at Lucy Addison Middle School for two months before becoming an assistant principal at Patrick Henry.
Before coming to the Roanoke Valley, Jablonski was a teacher and administrator in Las Vegas. He taught English and history for six years and was dean of students for two years at schools there. He also coached soccer.
The group praised his experience with Standards of Learning subjects, his understanding of the school’s diversity and the fact he knows the majority of students. But audience members noted he has less administrative experience than Duncan and thought she appeared more comfortable in Monday’s setting.
Bishop has said she hoped to recommend a new leader to the school board today, but she said following Monday’s meeting, she wasn’t sure whether the board would make decision today.
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