15 Years Later, The Search Resumes

Although significant time separates Shaker’s recent principal searches, community input remains consistent but includes some key differences

Located in the front entrance of the high school, this plaque commemorates the late Principal Jack Rumbaugh. A national search for a new principal ensued after Rumbaugh’s death in 1999.

Grace Lougheed

Located in the front entrance of the high school, this plaque commemorates the late Principal Jack Rumbaugh. A national search for a new principal ensued after Rumbaugh’s death in 1999.

The last search for a new principal occurred 15 years ago when Michael Griffith was hired after the death of Principal Jack Rumbaugh. Though Griffith did not come to the position through the search firm’s efforts, a leadership profile report was compiled, just as it was last month to begin the search for Griffith’s replacement.

In both cases, community members, parents and students offered suggestions to the search consultants, who then compiled a list of attributes stakeholders wished to see in the new principal. A comparison of the 2000 and current leadership profiles reveals significant similarities. Certain issues and concerns from 15 years ago remain today, along with some desired attributes of a principal.

Some issues the community believes remain are the racial achievement gap and evident segregation among groups in the school, such as sports teams and within the cafeteria. Both the 2000 and 2015 reports emphasized a need for a leader who is highly visible and has a deep understanding of Shaker’s diversity and history.

Griffith said the current report emphasizes personal traits. “It seems like the [2015-2016 leadership report] is far more focused on the characteristics of the person. There’s a lot more about collaborating, a lot more about team building and offering staff and professionals room for independence yet, with some accountability . . . The one today is really more about the human side of the person that is the leader.”

“If you look at [HYA’s] description of what they’re looking for in a principal, I will be honest and say that it defines who I try to be but, is it ever really possible to be that? That person who got described could almost levitate. If I were even close to that, I’d be ecstatic,” said Griffith.


Thoughts About Good Principals Reflect Changes

A look at the 2000 and 2015 principal leadership profiles from the meetings between parents, students, staff and other community members reveals interesting consistencies and differences. The meetings followed the same structure, in which the audience shared the strengths of the high school, concerns and issues and desired characteristics of the new principal.



  • 16 AP Courses
  • Autonomy provided to principal
  • Good relationship with teacher’s union
  • Minority Achievement Committee
  • Shaker Heights is a great family oriented community; good housing stock at a relatively reasonable cost.


  • Shaker’s reputation for academic excellence
  • Visual and performing arts
  • Global opportunities for students
  • Teachers reported a strong sense of camaraderie and support for their individual departments and courses




  • Number of 9th graders not passing
  • Biased Disciplinary practices
  • College Prep level of rigor too low
  • Need to increase technology
  • Absence and tardy rate of students
  • “White flight” from College Prep classes into Honors and AP classes


  • Fear and mourning of teaching staff. Teachers interviewed expressed many fears; loss of autonomy, forced to adapt new directions, change and turnover of administrative staff.
  • Parents were often singled out by staff and students as being overbearing and too influential and at the same time given preferential treatment. Other parents felt their voices were ignored based upon race or income level.
  • Amount of standardized testing


Desired Characteristics


  • Someone who assures the safety of students and staff
  • Someone with the ability to diminish the focus on competition
  • Respect for diversity including sexual orientation
  • Experience as a teacher
  • Someone who is not interested in maintaining the status quo
  • Ability to remain calm when the sweat builds up under the collar


  • Builder of trust and teams
  • Someone with a student focus
  • Embraces and understands the nuances of leading a high school with IB, AP and a wide spectrum of academic and extracurricular offerings

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