Archived Story

Chandler rehired as S.P. Morton principal

Published 11:52am Saturday, July 19, 2014

FRANKLIN—On Monday, Franklin High School Vice Principal Jason Chandler will return to S.P. Morton Elementary School, and this time, he’s there to stay.

Superintendent Willie J. Bell received 12 applications for the job, interviewed eight and called back three for second interviews, and on Thursday he recommended Chandler to become the school’s principal. The Franklin City Public School Board reappointed Chandler on Thursday with a unanimous vote of 6-0. Ward 3’s Dr. Andrea Hall-Leonard was away at a leadership conference.

Due to rehiring the administrator, Bell will have to write a justification letter to the Virginia Department of Education as part of the system’s Corrective Action Plan. He does not see any potential problems surfacing with that.

“I think he will do an outstanding job,” said Bell. “He will be a breath of fresh air for the teachers, students and parents in the community.”

Chandler, who received his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Averett University, and then completed his post-Master’s Certificate from George Washington University in educational administration and supervision, stood out during the interviews.

“His in-depth knowledge with the performance of curriculum and instruction stood out,” Bell said of Chandler, who is a doctoral candidate in educational administration and policy study at George Washington University. “As did his attention to details as it pertains to the structure of a building — the rituals and routine of a building. He is also personable. He will be key in building relationships with students, parents and the community.”

Having worked in the division before, he also knows the community and his vision and mission are already aligned with the division’s vision and mission, Bell said.

“He is thoroughly prepared and ready to handle this process, and we as a division are also prepared to support him in anyway that is possible to make sure the building is successful.”

The new principal had previously been hired for the job by the school board back on June 11, following the resignations of then principal Dr. Debbie Harris Rollins and then assistant principal Jametha Ruffin.

But on Thursday, June 19, the school board rescinded the offer 4-1, with Ward 6’s Dawna Walton voting nay, Ward 1’s Will Councill abstaining due to not being present at the board’s closed session to hear the reasoning, and Ward 5’s Sherita Ricks-Parker being absent.

Chandler said he had no ill-feelings about the process, adding that things had to be done in the right way and that he felt like the Franklin City Public Schools Board had been supportive of him throughout the ordeal. He also said he felt the support from the community as a whole, particularly the staff and parents of the S.P. Morton community.

“I am just glad that everything worked out,” he said. “It worked out for me, but more importantly, it is going to work out for the students and staff of S.P. Morton.”

During his three previous days on the job, Chandler said he learned a lot and is excited to get back in the building.

“I felt the excitement in the building, and to have to leave it for a little bit, it just made the heart grow stronger,” he said. “I wanted to get back as soon as possible.”

Chandler said he felt that this is where he is meant to be.

“This is where I feel like I can have the biggest impact,” he said. “The students deserve a leader, and the staff deserves a leader who is going to come in and do the right thing — improve morale, improve instruction, and ultimately, improve the results.”

The new principal said one of his main focuses is going to be on instruction.

“Classroom management can be an issue,” he said. “A good approach is to be proactive in establishing routines and procedures to combat those class management concerns that teachers and administrators have.”

From there, you look at curriculum.

“Once you have set good routines, you begin focusing on the alignment of curriculum,” Chandler said. “You have to have a laser-light focus on instruction, the correct level of rigor and what is relevant to the students. Those types of things really help to improve learning.”

When he gets in on Monday, the first thing he is going to do before he turns on his computer is stop and thank Paige Drewry, the administrative assistant, who helped run the summer school program with no principal in the building.

“She really stepped up,” Chandler said. “She was instrumental in supporting the summer school this year, along with the teachers there. They did a phenomenal job.”

Then he’s going to start looking into hiring an assistant principal, and the other hires that the building has to make, such as teachers and staff. He’ll next dig into scheduling and looking at the data for universal indicators to help establish where students are and where they need to be. He’ll work on differentiated instruction, the tier system and also how they should focus instruction, along with a host of other duties before school starts in the fall.

“I can’t wait,” Chandler said. “I am just ready and eager to get school started and get this going.

“I welcome members of community and parents who haven’t been to S.P. Morton for a while to please stop by and visit,” he continued. “It is a positive place to be.

“There is a lot to be done, but we are coming back strong.”

  • simplifyingit

    Chandler will be a positive change i’m sure. Felts and Francis and ALMOST everyone below their status will be doing as much as possible to teach our children, prepare them for life and improve our current situation.
    The problem is above them….people leading them who are disengaged, not available, don’t want interruptions, and won’t stand up for them. School board members who vote racially instead of what’s best for our kids. Past Superintendents (hoping the new Bell will make a difference)that weren’t ever “on the job” and were only padding a resume and drawing a salary and City council members who want to change back to what we had decades ago in public schools.
    Which where the problem all could be fixed….the FCPS admin and council should “thumb their nose” at the state and SOL’s, accept no more grant money and funding from them and teach every child like we were taught back in my day. We don’t need every child passing an SOL….we all fail or lag behind somewhere in life. Why should we accept SOL’s as reality……reality is we are dumbing down the brighter students so that the DIM ones don’t get “left behind”. That leads us to all being “left behind” most of the world. Which is why our economy is owned by foreign countries now. Until we reward the brighter/harder working students and realize we need an upper echelon and middle echelon and repeats our public school education system will continue to decline. I left behind many kids who didn’t try and was left behind by many kids who were obviously brighter than myself.
    Let’s face it……We are all not the same…some will succeed and some will fail. Our socialist ways of trying to help everyone have brought us to this demise we are in.

    We cannot all achieve the same greatness but we CAN all achieve the same failures when we let socialism take over our democratic government…….Simplifyingit (7-20-2014)

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    • simplifyingit

      Oops…proofreading mistake ( see we all fail somwhere!!), second paragraph should read ” and City council members who won’t change back”

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    • itlady

      Amen to simplifyingit…….we need to go back to teaching the children and not teaching to the SOL’s…..

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    Anyone that is critical of this hire is either misinformed or uninvolved in FCPS. This is a positive change…period. The justification was written because he was already hired for the position and had to be rehired due to the incompetence of the school board and human resources in following the proper procedures. It`s not an accident that Travis Felts and Lisa Francis have been successful in beginning a turnaround in their buildings. They are FROM here and PART of the community and therefore, have a vested interest in the success of FCPS. You will see them at community events, sporting events or just with their kids playing ball or soccer. Bringing outsiders in has been a total failure. How did Belle work out? Harris-Rollins and Ruffin? The ONLY time any of them were actually in Franklin was to come to work (when they decided to come)….thats it…its was just a job and a paycheck. Two more things i would like to see. 1. A no-nonsense assistant principal and dean of students hired to take care of the students/parents that are disrupting the school. 2. Ask Mr. Chandler to move to Franklin to show he is serious about being part of the community.

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    • JustWondering

      Not criticizing Chandler; wish him well as I wrote earlier. My point is that despite the VDOE presence, the FCPS board seems to be operating as unethically as always. Probably there was no “save” for this fiasco. Just think if you were one of those people of applied for a vacancy that wasn’t a real vacancy and came once or twice to an interview that wasn’t a real interview.

      On another note, last year Felts was the ONLY school administrator that lived in Franklin. NONE of the assistant principals, Rollins, Francis, Belle, HR, Curriculum, Testing, Special Education, Finance, and Transportation all lived outside of Franklin!

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      • DIESEL

        Pretty sure anyone living in Newsomes would be considered “from here” or “living here”. When you say you`re going to town for some things and the town you`re going to is Franklin… live here.

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  • JustWondering

    Just Wondering who, other than the 8 who came for interviews, didn’t see this coming. I wish Chandler all the best, but Franklin is such a mockery of a school system, and Bell writing a justification to VDOE? What does it say that a justification has to be written? It says to me that the board has no intention of straightening up its act and the new superintendent is either buying into or falling into the FCPS trap rather than cleaning up the rank, ragged past dirty business.

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  • Poly Ester

    Re: Chandler Rehired as S .P. Morton Principal:
    Framed and on the wall in an elementary school where I once taught, were these profound words: THINK ABOUT THEM!!
    If you always do what you have always done, You will always get what you have always gotten!
    Until we change the mindset of the educators and more importantly the administrators and School Board members, of our public school system, we are doomed to keep getting the results we have gotten in the past years.
    Sad, that our School Board members , are all so hell bent & stubborn, that they think that no other ideas will work except their own !!

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    • Councilman

      Thank You Nothing more needs to be said except I TOTALLY agree with those words and they should apply to City Council members as well.

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