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Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Interim principal named for Hardy

By Bill Turque

Central office administrator Daniel Shea, a long-time Montgomery County middle and high school principal, is the new interim principal at Hardy Middle School. He replaces Dana Nerenberg, who took over last summer as part of former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's controversial reassignment of Patrick Pope.

In a letter to Hardy parents Monday, Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson said Shea's middle school experience makes him a good fit for the post (Nerenberg had none) as does his expertise in scheduling, another issue at Hardy. Shea is currently manager of scheduling in the Office of Secondary School Transformation and author of the hot-off-the-presses "Middle Grades Planning Guide and Scheduling Workbook."

Henderson said she will appoint a permanent principal, after consultation with the school community, for the 2011-12 academic year.

Shea is expected to begin next week. Good luck to him.

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By Bill Turque  | February 8, 2011; 11:43 AM ET
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Sounds like a good choice. I wish him the best of luck and hope the Hardy Community will rally to support him, the teachers and the kids.

Posted by: horacemann | February 8, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Wow - a school scheduling expert to the rescue!

Apparently that's what it takes in DCPS to put the Hardy schedule back to the way it was before deposed Principal Nerenberg changed it without consulting teachers.

I wonder how many hours of executive-level decision making were needed to come up with this solution.

Posted by: efavorite | February 8, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

How about just toning down the cynicism in this case. Scheduling was an issue, not the only issue and there are multiple constituencies involved, not just the teachers. Shea has experience as a principal and he has experience working with middle school schedules. Instead of questioning the choice, why not just admit you think it makes sense.

Posted by: horacemann | February 8, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps there is another type of cynicism going on -- among people who want to cut off conversation because they fear common sense comments that question the wisdom of this move.

Posted by: efavorite | February 8, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Which move are you questioning--the decision to put in place an experienced middle school administrator with knowledge of scheduling challenges? I didn't realize from your comment you were questioning the move. I thought you were just being snarky.

Posted by: horacemann | February 8, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

You had it right. The new principal has experience running a large regional high school, as well as high performing middle school -- not hard to get premier academic performance, considering the demographics at Westland.
But, some continue to demand the counter-Reformation, re-installation of the papacy and its dispensations. efavorite wanted to see different smoke signals from the stack about a school he knows little more about than that M. Rhee made a terrible management call --one principal for 700 students, 300 of them new, across 3 buildings and 2 campuses, all to correct admissions abuses and academic mediocrity that called for new, dedicated administration.
Give it up, efavorite, the Hardy sisterhood is gone. Shea, the new principal is no part of the resentment structure you've been feeding off of. Shea's not interested. By next year, the old pontiff will be remembered with as much fondness as was Brezhnev; and Nerenberger will be remembered about as much as Yuri Andropov is. Which is to say: forgotten.

Posted by: incredulous | February 8, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Dana Nerenberg did not have a chance to succeed at Hardy MS. She had too many negatives against her. Now that a new interim principal has been put in place the parents will tell their children to behave and consequences are enforced to those students that do not know how to conduct themselves. BTW...Pope is not coming back, too many politics.

Posted by: mtcarlo501 | February 8, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

It appears that the interim principal has the experience necessary. I am glad to see that DCPS is not putting forth someone with little experience who they think is qualified only because he/she participated in the New Leaders Program.

I agree that the school community should support this principal but I am extremely concerned when I read in the Georgetown Dish that Henderson did not inform the LSRT or PTA. They learned about the new principal from a letter all students were given.

This is the same kind of behavior that set off the mistrust that so many people have about Rhee/Henderson's intentions.

We need to move past this mode of operating if we are going to move forward in this city.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | February 8, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I see no problem with putting all parents on equal footing with regard to the principal announcement. That seems a much better way of making the announcement than briefing some small parent/teacher group first, which if I recall was the genesis of mistrust in the first place.

Posted by: horacemann | February 8, 2011 5:06 PM | Report abuse

The genesis of "mistrust" was lying Rhee/Henderson administration.

I heard Pope is going to Savoy as the "interim principal." What happen to the new arts middle school?

Let the Wilholt close friend from Montgomery County step in. He will be considered Henderson's henchman.

One other point, who will be the scheduling expert downtown while he is at Hardy.

Oh well. Good Luck Hardy community, it could have been worse. Rhee could have got the job.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | February 8, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Hiring an educator whose latest title is "Middle Grades Planning Guide and Scheduling Workbook" as opposed to "Waiting for Superman" is a refreshing change. There really is no substitute for competency in public education.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 8, 2011 10:23 PM | Report abuse


Is Henderson still using Rhee's PR person? Are you on Anita Dunn's payroll?

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 8, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Yes, you have exposed the conspiracy; and I get a bonus each time I am able to use the word "snarky," as in a comment with no substance, strictly intended to belittle the person making the comment is quite snarky. Are you feelin' snarky, Linda?

Posted by: horacemann | February 9, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I thought there was a hiring freeze? If not, when did it get released? You mean to tell me that with all of the top-heavy expertise at headquarter that not one person was capable to be interim principal for the remaining school year? What kinda of staff meetings does Kaya hold? Does she initiate a game version of Let's Make a Principal? Where candidates stand behind curtain 1-2 or 3.

Posted by: PowerandPride | February 9, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I understand that some people just want to vent on here and anything done by DCPS is a target for criticism, some warranted, but

1. Dan Shea is an excellent school administrator. He has a history of leading well run schools. I would encourage the Hardy community to let him lead.

2. Dana Nerenberg was not given the opportunity to succeed because she was not Patrick. She has been cast as an ineffectual dilettante, when in fact she is an extremely capable administrator. She has demonstrated commitment to this system and our children and should not be treated so disrespectfully.

And, those who know what it takes to lead a school and appreciate the work of the few people actually doing this hard work can appreciate these facts.

And, the others of you...well... just keep typing away on the blog. No one is listening, because you have nothing contributory to say.

Posted by: DC4Life2009 | February 9, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

You're listening, DC3life2009, or you wouldn't have bothered to post your opinion here.

By the way, I don't doubt that Nerenberg is a good administrator, who was put in an untenable position by her superiors.

I have no reason to think that Shea is incapable of leading a school, based on his qualifications.

I think both have been put in difficult situations because of gross mismanagement at high levels in DCPS. Many students, parents and teachers have suffered because of this.

I also think your defense of Nerenberg and Shea is hurt by your comment to people who haven't expressed opinions similar to yours that they "have nothing contributory to say."

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The word "excellent" is the most over-used word in the DCPS diatribe. They will use it to describe any personnel decision and when proven other wise, we are back to square one.

Again, there is supposedly a hiring freeze for DCPS and if past practices serves as a lesson. Then you would not need to hire a interim principal. Merely because your pool of instructional superintendents would have sufficed as an adequate grouping candidates to operate Hardy for the remaining of the school year as the interim principal.

Yes, DC4forlife2009, it would be fair to give the outsider a chance but there's a budget crunch and it's quite evident we have more than enough people at DCPS headquarters twirling the fingers with nothing to do.

Now I wonder if this interim will be allowed to apply for the job, when and if the principal position becomes advertised, that will be another can of worms? But hopefully, there will be a new superintendent/chancellor in place by June 30, 2011.

As for this guy being a recommendation from Dr. Wilhoyte that is the only saving grace because as it stands now Dr. Wilhoyte is the only holdover from the past superintendents/chancellor appointments. He must be doing something right with all his MILLIONS!!!!!

Posted by: PowerandPride | February 9, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Its really sad that it took until now to place a person with a least the right creditials at Hardy. Henderson claims that children are first. Well my child is last because of Rhee's poor decision to remove Pope and Henderson's refusal to bring him back. This entire school year so far at Hardy has been the worst. The entire metropolitan area is aware of it. So lets disrupt the school some more with the new principal.

Pope if your reading this, open a charter school based on the model you created at Hardy. You will be fully supported by parents, students and the community.

Posted by: helluvateacher | February 9, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Pope can't open a charter school based on the model he created at Hardy. It is illegal to require students to submit school records, test scores, and testimony to character as part of the application process. Then, there's the matter that everything Pope learned about arts education was from his time as principal at Hyde ES, his students went to Fillmore Arts Center for 1/2 day per week, and his own daughters enjoyed arts education at Sidwell Friends.
Or, do you have in mind his attracting students to other than Georgetown with that real kid-pleaser, Kumon Math? Also, his Hardy Sisterhood would have to be brought out of retirement, again. And a Board of Directors would expect them to work for their salaries. No, a Pope-led charter is no more going to happen than is a Pope-led DCPS arts school.

Posted by: incredulous | February 10, 2011 2:37 AM | Report abuse

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