HOS Transition FAQ

The Princeton Montessori Society Trustees announced the appointment of the next Head of School (HOS) and CEO of the Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE) on February 11, 2014. The Search resulted in the selection of Michelle Morrison, a stand-out leader who developed and thrived from within the community of our superb Princeton Montessori School faculty, and teacher and parent educators.

The Trustees are confident that this change of leadership will bring added energy and vitality to our nationally and internationally renowned Princeton Montessori School and Princeton Center for Teacher Education. Michelle looks forward to beginning a dialogue with parents and teachers that ensures a transition that is smooth in the coming year.

Over the past months, some frequently asked questions about the change in leadership have been posed to the teachers, administration and Trustees. Responses to some of these questions are outlined below.

Mar 5 2013  - From Michelle Morrison

The following questions were presented by parents during the coffees held on Feb 21 and 25th. Michelle’s responses are below.

What do you see as priorities of the School over the next 10 years?

My first priority will be to look, listen, and do a lot of connecting to parents, faculty, and staff in hearing the voices of the community and learning the job.  From the onset, I will actively support the faculty, administration, and staff in their work and maintain a culture of collaboration, professionalism, and open communication.  From my new vantage point, I hope to identify needs and prioritize them in setting a course for the next few years for our community.  I will ensure the highest quality of education for our children, strengthen the financial health of our school, focus on building enrollment and raising retention from program to program, build on the integrity of our Montessori curriculum in ensuring best practices for 21st century expectations, and hone our message out to the community as to who we are and the incredible value of a Montessori education.

What is your leadership style?

For those parents who have known me in my role as an educator or program director, they would confirm that my leadership style is participatory and relational. I enjoy engaging with others, hearing everyone’s voice, and building a team approach founded on trust, mutual respect, and a shared vision. I believe in communicating a direction with clarity and setting measurable markers as we move toward our goals. I hope to bring a healthy dose of enthusiasm and energy to this position with many ideas for strengthening our community and reaching new heights in our school’s history.

What role do you see for the rest of the community, including parents?

We have many leaders at all levels of our school and training center and it is my intent to bring out the talents of all community members on behalf of the Society. Our faculty are seasoned, talented, and passionate about the Montessori philosophy and teaching. Their voices, ideas, and vision are important to the leader of the school and I will actively seek their thoughts as the School moves forward. Parents play an important role in creating the future we hope to realize. A strong partnership between the school and the parent body is crucial and a sign of a healthy institution. Participation and engagement, whether as parent ambassadors, in attendance at parent education sessions and school events, or simply as active members of your child’s program are helpful in building relations and allowing us to hear your voice. I look forward to an exchange of ideas as I take on this role in August and look forward to getting to know parents, at all levels, as the first year unfolds.

Feb 2014 – General Questions

What is the timeline of the transition?

Marsha and Michelle will begin the logistics of making the administrative exchange of leadership during the summer 2014. Michelle will officially assume full leadership responsibilities in August 2014.

What is the plan for parents to get to know Michelle and to begin a meaningful dialogue with her?

Michelle is a collaborator at heart and looks forward to learning more about each family, program, and teaching team. Michelle is offering some open times for parents to come in and share a cup of coffee or tea and chat. Click here to choose a time. You will receive an email confirmation.  As next year unfolds, Michelle will have many opportunities to get to know each program better and to communicate with parents and teachers about her vision for the School and PCTE.  Michelle is available to communicate with parents about their individual thoughts and ideas by contacting her at mwmorrison@pmonts.org.

How will this change affect the Middle School program?

The Middle School will continue to be led by experienced teachers with the administrative support of Gwen Shangle, Director of Student Services. Most Middle School parents are aware that Dr. Joseph Stencel will retire this year which we have planned for accordingly throughout this year. To learn more about the middle school faculty, you may access a letter that was shared with the Middle School community shortly after the HOS/CEO announcement.

What is the HOS/CEO relationship with the administrative team?

The administration team is highly attuned to the needs of the community and is ready to ensure that Michelle’s transition to this new leadership role is seamless. The many facets of the School Operations will continue to be led by this valuable team of professionals.

Will Marsha have a role in the School or PCTE during and after this transition?

Marsha will hand over her leadership role to Michelle; she is confident that she will provide thoughtful vision for the School and PCTE. Marsha will be available to provide transitional information to Michelle for the coming year. She will continue to lead the PCTE Montessori Leadership Course with Ginny Cusack, which opened in fall 2013. Lastly and most importantly, Marsha and Joe will enjoy their role as Princeton Montessori School Grandparents and continued stewards of the place they too, call their second home.

How will this change affect my child?

Students, most likely, will not notice a change in their curriculum, connection with their teachers, or general life within the school in the coming year. They will continue to enjoy a quality Montessori education led by the teachers they love, alongside the friends they have come to know.

The elementary and middle school students will be most aware of this transition. Marsha and Michelle will make a point to introduce Michelle to them in different venues this year. Plans are also underway to create a festive welcome for Michelle at the Family Ice Cream Social in September.