An educator from Pennsylvania has been selected as the best fit to lead Aspen Middle School.
Dr. Eva Allen will meet with staff, students and the community today and Friday as part of the final step in the hiring process. AMS began a national search for its next principal when Craig Rogers announced his resignation in January.
“I’ve been looking to expand my experiences and Aspen has been on my radar for a long time now,” Allen said.
Her reason for wanting to be here: “The possibility of being in a community that supports its students and education so strongly.”
Allen has never lived in Aspen. She was raised in a small town north of Pittsburgh, and she said she would like to get back to her small-town roots. Currently, she serves as acting principal at Pittsburgh Liberty, a Spanish-language immersion elementary school.
She served as an assistant principal for a middle school in the same district last year and as a teacher for 18 years prior to that. She also specializes in climate and culture within public education — something for which the Aspen School District has come under fire amid the current leadership of Superintendent John Maloy. The school board elected not to renew Maloy’s contract this year and commissioned a districtwide climate-and-culture study amid complaints from parents about the steady turnover of teachers.
Allen has worked as a coach for schools that are trying to improve their culture and climate. She said she has read the final climate-and-culture report on the Aspen School District. Improving the district requires big-picture planning, she said.
“It’s really holistic; it’s not just about the things that we do, it’s about the things that you feel when you walk into the door,” Allen said. “It’s the intangibles sometimes that get lost.”
Allen met her husband, Eric, early in both of their careers when each was an elementary school teacher. Allen has three school-aged children, spread amongst sixth through 11th grades.
Throughout the spring, a hiring team at the middle school gathered a group of stakeholders to help review the principal’s job description, create a set of agreed-upon values and review applications. Thirty-two staff and parents were involved in developing the framework for the job description. Seven students participated in first-round candidate interviews that were conducted on May 9.
Allen said she was impressed that everybody was welcomed to the table during the interview process.
“As a parent of three children and a 20-year veteran of education, this process for me is a privilege to be a part of,” Allen said.
On May 10, the interview team concluded that Allen was the best candidate for the job, and invited her back for the final steps of the process this week. The hiring team will meet Friday after Allen’s visit and is expected to have a decision at that time.
To analyze her fit, they will evaluate the feedback from the meet-and-greet sessions and refer to values statements created by stakeholders. The list of values includes statements like integrity, communication and equity.
If it is determined that Allen is not a good fit, then the search will reopen and an interim administrator likely will be needed to oversee the start of the 2019-20 school year.
Staff and parents can meet her at the middle school today between noon and 1 p.m. and 4-5 p.m. They also may visit with her on Friday beginning at noon.