Principal Allen Talks Changes, Leadership Search


The sign in front of the school displays the new principals’ names.

Alice Bai and Ethan Rotnem

The new year always brings new hopes, goals, and ambitions; in the case of Chamblee Charter High School, it brings two new interim principals, as well. Since the start of January, Terese Allen and Robert Williams have implemented two key changes for the CCHS community: a revised phone and earbud policy, as well as new counselor assignments.

“[The earbud policy] was one right off the bat [teachers] wanted to do something about,” said Allen. “Trying to get [students’] attention in the hall, they can’t hear you, this, that, or the other, […] [the teachers] really weren’t for that policy in the first place.”

Allen also viewed the change in counselors as a “standard” one, citing the importance that students and counselors form a relationship over the duration of a student’s high school career.

“[The counselors] need to be able to write that recommendation [for seniors], and they need to know you,” said Allen. “This way, it’ll give them four years to know you.”

At the same time, Allen maintained that the interim tenure will not be filled with too much modification.

“The changes [we make are] for something that’s not running as efficiently as it could, so that we can be more effective and more efficient,” she said. “We’re not here to just flip everything upside down, because there’s a lot of things that are great and run smoothly. I think any time there is a change, it’s because there’ll be the teachers, or the community or something, that says, ‘this has been going on, and we really think we need to kind of tweak this.’”

A further change on Allen’s radar could potentially be the morning sign-in policy. While she acknowledged that, in spite of the current policy, “people are just sitting in the hall,” Allen has not come to a decision to alter the process.

“Mr. Williams and I want more input on that, because we’ve seen it run both ways. We’ve seen a morning designated area for people to go hang out, talk, whatever, and we’ve seen it where the school’s been open for the students to go where they need to go and take care of business in the morning,” said Allen. “I want staff input […] because if it changes, then we have to have better supervision in the building, and teachers have to be on duty.”

She clarified that unless a formal announcement is made, school procedures still stand as they were explained in the fall semester.

“Everything should just be continued on,” said Allen. “That’s what we wanted, not a lot of disruption, so everything continues to flow as it was, because you all were used to what had happened. Like it or not, you all had a rhythm. As we see the need for change, then we make changes.”

Both interim principals, who worked as executive coaches at CCHS before stepping into their new administrative roles, will follow no strict timeline as the search for a permanent principal proceeds.

“We’re here until they hire someone. And if that’s March, April, that’s March or April. If it’s June or July–I don’t see it really lasting past then, because surely by then someone will be in place to start the year,” said Allen. “As long as they need us, we’re here. We like it here.”

She expects the search for a replacement to stretch on throughout this semester.

“I know that in the next couple of months, they’ll be pulling resumes, people replying, and resume pools and reviews, and interviews. And students will be a part of that,” said Allen. “In the process for DeKalb, I think they have a student sit in on the interview panel at the district when they narrow it down to like four, and then when they narrow it down to four, the four come back for a second round, and there’s usually a student rep on that as well.”

In the meantime, Allen and Williams enjoy a strong, harmonious work relationship.

“Mr. Williams and I have known each other since back in the 1980s. We worked together at Clarkston High School, and we have known each other from that point forward, we’ve stayed in contact,” said Allen.

She singles out their similar leadership styles as a reason for this conflict-free relationship.

“We’re both pretty easy to get along with, and we don’t really have a lot of ego. I mean, our thing is just, we enjoy what we’re doing, and we want to do the best we can for the school,” said Allen. “We just roll with it.”

Williams did not respond to requests for comment.