Principal search aims to finish by April

February 17, 2023


Ishani Hariprasad

SUCCESSOR SEARCH. Following the new on Feb. 3 that principal Paul Beekmeyer will leave Lab, a search committee of eight faculty and administrators will work with consultants DRG Talent to hire the next U-High principal.

A Lab committee and external consultants will conduct a global search for the next U-High principal, with an ambitious goal of announcing their hire in April. Principal Paul Beekmeyer announced on Feb. 3 that he will leave at the end of this academic year after four years in the role.

A search committee will work with consultants from DRG Talent to identify two to four finalists, who will be invited to visit the high school, meet with the community and provide feedback, according to a follow-up email to the Midway from Director of Schools Tori Jueds. 

Ms. Jueds said a search consultant was hired to help in the process of casting a global search for a diverse pool of applicants for principal.

“Our search will be open to all candidates. You could call it a national, even global, search and that’s why we have a search consultant. They know who’s in the profession, and they can reach out to people who might be a good fit,” Ms. Jueds said in an interview. “So candidates might come from internally and they might come from other schools, from other institutions, all over the country, all over the world.”

In an email to the Lab community Feb. 14, Ms. Jueds announced she would co-chair the search committee with Carla Ellis, associate director of schools. Members include Ana Campos, dean of students; Camille Baughn-Cunningham, high school counselor; Kenny Fournillier, science teacher; Nicole Neal, director of student services; Ian Taylor, English teacher and Zilkia Rivera-Vazquez, assistant principal.

Looking forward to reviewing the survey responses, Dr. Fournillier plans to voice the needs of the science department and faculty at large.

“Collecting that feedback from other members of my department and trying to prioritize what might be important for our department as a whole,” he said, regarding his role as the only science teacher on the committee. “And then, even if it’s outside of our department, try to prioritize what might be important for other faculty members if they’re willing to share that.”

In addition to the search committee and consultants, a survey was sent to all U-High students, families and employees, asking for community input about principal aspirations. There will also be separate listening sessions for high school students, faculty, families and all employees. The in-person session for high school students will be March 7 during open time, 10:10-10:40 a.m. in the John Rogers Board Room in Judd Hall.

Zoom sessions for employees and parents/guardians are below with registration links:

Ms. Jueds said she, search committee members and consultants will be in the listening sessions to understand the characteristics, qualities and experiences constituents believe a new principal should have.

While Ms. Jueds said she wants to find someone who embodies Lab’s mission and values of collaboration, student understanding and community building, she’s also looking forward to hearing what qualities and values community members voice as their top priorities. 

She said, “We will find ourselves on the other side of this search with a wonderful new principal for University High School who brings the qualities we’re looking for, like alignment with our mission and support for our commitment to scholarship and our commitment to exhibiting kindness and very much our commitment to honoring diversity.”

Student and faculty react to Beekmeyer leaving

Reacting to the Feb. 3 announcement that Principal Paul Beekmeyer would be leaving U-High at the end of the school year, students and faculty alike expressed their support.

Christy Gerst, history: 

“I am disappointed. He was the perfect principal for U-High, deeply devoted to the issue of student empowerment of their workload with the new revisions of the Program of Studies as well as his commitment to valuing multiple, scholarly perspectives while at the same time honoring diversity, equity and inclusion as the perfect embodiment of that commitment to each and every student. ” 

Tori Jueds, director:

“I know we will all miss Mr. Beekmeyer very much, and I will personally miss him as well. I think he has been a great leader of the University High School, and I’m sorry that he’s leaving, but I’m also always excited for somebody when they find the next thing that, in this case, I think really suits him and his family as well as what he wants to do. So, that’s why it’s sort of bittersweet.”

Daniel Bobo-Jones, science:

“I wish the best for him, and he’s been, hands down, the best principal I’ve ever worked with”

Laura Doto, learning coordinator and faculty co-chair: 

“I’m grateful for the stability that he’s provided over the last three years in terms of leadership, sorry to see him go, and I’m looking forward to the next face.”

Grace LaBelle, ninth grade:

“I feel like I didn’t have enough time to get to know him because I’m a freshman, but I feel like he sets good examples. I like him because he’s calm and he’s well rounded. I think he’s really grounded and he’s grounded to what he does, and he really focuses on being a principal and the good of the students.”

Mahi Shah, junior:

“Mr. Beekmeyer has always been really supportive of the debate program, so I’m sad that he’s leaving because he’s always encouraged all of us to keep pushing and motivating us and he’s always shown us that he really cares about the program.”

Vincent Zhang, senior: 

I was extremely upset to hear the news, and I think the school will not be the same without him. I just think he’s done a great job on the administrative part, and just keeping the school organized and all that.”

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