The search for a new principal begins amid Echols’ last year


Ollie Shuminas

The search for a replacement principal has taken place as Dr. Echols plans to retire.

Chloe Stables, Spotlight Reporter

Darrell Echols has been the principal of Metea Valley high school for the past eight years and plans to retire at the end of this school year. Although Echols’s legacy is irreplaceable, the search to find a new principal has begun and the district hopes to announce a new principal before the December board meeting. 

Assistant superintendent Nicole Howard is excited to be conducting the search and hiring process. This is Howard’s second year working for District 204 and her goal is to create success within the high schools. 

“My role is to work with principals, support them and develop leadership teams at each of the high school buildings to make sure we continue our ongoing success,” Howard said.

Recently, District 204 has been posting the open position on highly visible websites. They are receiving applications on a nationwide level. Although many of the candidates are experienced principals, Howard is looking for someone who fits the values of the faculty, parents, and community. 

“This is a comprehensive process. We are looking at references, how these applicants portray themselves in their resumes, fact-checking their resumes, and making sure they have the proper certifications and experiences that we require,” Howard said. “We sent out surveys to find out what the Metea community wants in a principal. We heard them loud and clear. As I am going through the applicants I am mindful of that criteria.” 

Based on the survey answers, an ideal candidate would be a great communicator and an expert on building staff morale. The community wants a candidate who will focus on building relationships with the student body. While these are all important, a common characteristic came up across all surveys: a strong leader. 

“From the district perspective, we are looking for a strong leader who takes initiative through to fruition. Someone who can manage multiple areas and build relationships with not only teachers but with custodians, secretaries, and other staff. We want a principal that genuinely cares,” Howard said. “This person will need to be present and involved in the community. Someone who will be able to attend Friday night football games and interact with students in the hallway.”

Compared to other high schools across the country, Metea is a widely populated and diverse school. According to Howard, running this organization takes a particular skill set. 

“The role of a principal is a big role to fill especially when you are running a school this big,” Howard said. “Echols has been such a staple in the Metea community, we need someone who will be able to step in and build upon the foundation and legacy that Echols has created here at Metea.” 

Once Howard narrows down the applicants, the superintendent will choose between the two remaining candidates who he will recommend to the board of education.

“Our goal is to have a new principal appointed by December so that this person will have time to acclimate to the building, start meeting people and get to know Echols so that they can continue his great work,” Howard said. 

Howard believes it will be tough to choose between candidates but she trusts the process and is enthusiastic about the future of Metea.