Retired and hired


Mary Kay Gagnepain and Emily Grossnicklaus

A timeline of the retiring and hiring events.

An unfamiliar face greeted students as they filed in on the first day of school, Aug. 13.

Mr. Charles Crouther (pronounced Krouw-ther), interim head principal, is filling the role for this school year.

Interim head principals serve as head principal for one year while the district finds a person to take over the position permanently.

Dr. Eric Knost, superintendent, met with faculty in the large theater to introduce Mr. Crouther, June 19.

The announcement was unusual in that Dr. Knost hired someone outside of the hiring process and that Mr. Crouther was retired before being hired.

“To hire Mr. Crouther, he had to come out of retirement and reactivate his credentials,” Dr. Knost said.

Before retiring, Mr. Crouther was an administrator with almost four decades of experience in education. He served 10 years as principal and assistant principal at St. Genevieve High School. He was also a band director for 25 years as well as a student teacher supervisor for Missouri Baptist University for four years.

The choice to hire Mr. Crouther was mainly an idea brought by Dr. Knost who felt the pressure of a tight timeline.

“The timing of Mrs. Deborah Asher’s, retired principal, departure was late in the school year,” Dr. Knost said. “Everybody had opinions about how I should handle the next principal.”

Administrators in the 2013-2014 school year received their contracts April 15, almost three weeks before the administrators received their contracts during the 2014-2015 school year, May 8.

“I decided I was going to retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, actually. I was thinking about it more as the year was coming to a close, and it just so happened that the district issued administrator contracts later than usual,” Mrs. Asher said. “I still had my contract for the next year. I had not signed it yet, so I wasn’t under contract. That kind of gave me a window to think about it, so I just decided it was time. I was ready to do something different.”

After the retiring of Mrs. Asher, Dr. Knost had to find a new head principal.

Dr. Katie Roublet, assistant superintendent of Human Resources, outlined the process the district has a process for hiring principals in an email interview conducted, Sept. 14:

  • The district posts the position on the RSD website.
  • The district staff meets with parents and staff to determine the qualities the community is looking for in the incoming principal.
  • A committee (consisting of the superintendent, assistant superintendent of Human Resources, assistant superintendent of schools and the Rockwood National Education Association president) screens applicants that applied for the position.
  • The screening committee selects candidates to interview from the screening.
  • Parent and staff representatives interview the candidates, ranking the candidates on an evaluation form resulting in a score for each candidate.
  • The top candidates move on to final interviews with the superintendent, asst. sup. of HR and asst. sup. of schools.
  • Dr. Knost makes a final recommendation that goes before the board of education for approval.

The district did go through that process, which resulted in sending two candidates being sent forward to Dr. Knost: one internal who already works in the building in a different position and one external who came from outside of the district.

“We went through the normal process of looking at candidates, screening candidates, and doing screening interviews, doing committee interviews and creating finalists for me to interview,” Dr. Knost said in a phone interview conducted, Aug. 24.

“It was a difficult process,” Dr. Knost said. “I learned throughout that there were a lot of different paradigms in the staff’s thoughts. Some students and parents reached out to me, so the idea was that we needed to put on the breaks and find an interim that was not currently connected to EHS but still had a skill and expertise to build relationships and connect some of the divides.”

The community was split with about half insisting that EHS need a principal that was familiar with its traditions (an internal candidate) and the other half insisting the school need a fresh perspective (an external candidate), according to Dr. Knost.

Ms. Sharon Wasson, physical education teacher, hoped for an external candidate and an outsider would bring.

“EHS was divided in many ways. The staff didn’t see enough of each other. We didn’t do enough things together. We weren’t encouraged as a staff to bond. It was more of a tearing apart versus building up,” Ms. Wasson said. “Quite frankly, you get to a certain point in situations in life where it’s time for a change. That’s why I’m retiring this year.”

That divide isn’t felt by everyone.

“I, personally, am extraordinarily pleased to be working at EHS,” Ms. Naomi Warren, social worker, said. “I’ve reflected on that a lot, especially since coming back from my maternity leave. I work with a lot of people across a lot of departments and feel very fortunate to have positive working relationships with so many people.”

Dr. Knost heard those varied perspectives from many, many community members.

“At a point in time in the process, I felt we needed a larger candidate pool to make it a valued process by all who were involved,” Dr. Knost said in a phone interview conducted, Aug. 24. “To do so, I felt I needed to appoint an interim from beyond the pool that was currently represented.”

Dr. Knost decided to go a different route. He chose Mr. Crouther outside of  the hiring process.

“Hiring Mr. Crouther outside of the process is a bold move,” Sierra Clark (11) said. “Let’s just hope it works out.”

Dr. Knost had specific standards he wanted met, and, to him, Mr. Crouther was the answer.

“It became pretty clear that I needed someone to be an interim principal that the building would not question once they met him. I wanted someone I had complete confidence in and who could bridge us from where we are at to a permanent principal,” Dr. Knost said. “My high school band director, Mr. Crouther, came to mind.”

Hiring Mr. Crouther required board approval.

“Dr. Knost came to the board and asked if we would allow him to temporarily fill the position with someone he knew who had been retired,”  Mr. Matt Doell, board of education president, said in a phone interview conducted, Sept. 11. “He asked for someone to come in for one year to give us that year to do a full-on, exhaustive search to find somebody who’s not just capable of doing the job but somebody who would be a really good fit. We authorized Dr. Knost to do that for this year.”

Mr. Crouther’s mission is clear.

“Unity is the goal,” Dr. Knost said.

With over 100 years of traditions, Mr. Crouther inherits an established community.

“I just hope that we can continue in the strong traditions of EHS,” Mr. Crouther said. “If there’s any need for improvement in the arts or athletics, I hope we can do that in the interest of the students.”

Students are getting to know Mr. Crouther within short time he has been here.

“In difficult times, I feel like it is okay that the superintendent chose him,” Audrey Dames, StuCo executive board secretary, said.  “He’s excited to work with us, so I think he will be a beneficial part of EHS.”

The staff is getting to know their new leader, too.

“I think he is good for the job,” Mrs. Krystal Phillips, Language Arts teacher said. “He is not changing a million things or asking us to do things were not used to, so we can go with things were accustomed to.”

Though challenges may come,  Mr. Crouther is excited to be interim principal.

“I have seen a lot of schools close-hand by working with Missouri Baptist, as a band director and as an administrator,” Mr. Crouther said. “But there isn’t anything better than EHS.  If you walk down the halls you will see the academic, athletic, and the band and theatre accomplishments. It is top of the line in everything.”