School receives new principal

The position of principal is possibly the most prominent position in a school. Back in April, Principal Justin Smith turned in his resignation as principal of the high school. He will be moving to become the superintendent of Temple Public Schools.

The new Duncan High School principal will be Kelly Trinidad, who is currently an assistant elementary principal in Lewisville, Texas.

The process for deciding on Smith’s replacement was relatively simple, and it started with finding applicants.

“We opened up the application process statewide and through the region,” district Superintendent Melonie Hau said. “We advertised in Kansas and Texas because we wanted to make sure that we had a large pool of candidates.”

There were 21 applicants for the high school principal position, two from out of state. Trinidad was one of those two.

“We were really pleased with the quality of candidates that we received,” Assistant Superintendent Merry Stone said.  “We felt like we had a solid pool of outstanding educators that applied for the job.”

The committee to choose the new principal consisted of administrators and a teacher from the high school. When looking for the person to fill the position, the committee looked for people who have already been administrators in their school districts.

“That was important to us because the high school principal position is most visible in our community, and it’s a job that takes prior experience,” Stone said.

The position takes a lot of experience because there are so many facets of the job that one needs to be able to be in control of.

“There are a lot of moving parts to a high school; you have a lot of programs to manage, in addition to making sure you’re taking care of teachers and students and staff and interacting with parents,” Hau said. “So it was important that this person have those communication skills and is also an instructional leader who is organized enough to manage all of those moving parts.”

Hau met with Trinidad and ended up believing that she was the right person for the job.

“I was impressed when I met with her, she had knowledge of instruction, and we feel confident that she has the curriculum knowledge as well to be able to lead the high school into any future changes that will happen there,” she said.

The committee was looking for a candidate who has also dealt with and understands the Professional Learning Communities that Duncan started practicing this year. Another important thing that Hau was looking for in the candidates was how they would fit into the community when they were principal.

“We wanted to make sure that this person really loves the community, or will grow to love the community, and will be a huge supporter of the families of students here,” she said.

Cheryl Kincannon, the school’s registrar who has worked at the high school for over 20 years, has seen several principals come and go. She described how students have gotten attached to some principals, such as Steve Cleveland in the early to mid 2000s, but when the new principal came in to replace him, the students welcomed her with open arms.

“When the new principal came she was young and excited, and she was fired up trying to run new programs and everyone just kind of fell on board,” Kincannon said. “So we’re team players at the high school, and when someone comes in we’ll try to be a part of their team.”

Stone believes that Trinidad has spirit, maybe the kind of spirit that students can get on board with.

“When we interviewed Kelly we all kind of said the same thing. She’s so engaging and just had a spirit and energy about her,” Stone said. “She’s extremely knowledgeable about a lot of different areas and has had a lot of experiences with special ed., secondary ed. and instructional coaching.”