By Alex Opsahl and Mei Nathan
APS named Dr. Betsy Bockman the permanent principal of Grady. Bockman was the leading candidate during separate interviews with the Local School Governance Team, Atlanta Public School (APS) Board and Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen. APS confirmed her position on Feb. 3.
“Dr. Bockman is someone who genuinely cares about students, specifically students in the Grady cluster.” said Dr. Dan Sims, APS associate superinten- dent. “Her being in that position will cause individuals (teachers and other educators) to want to come to Grady and be part of a winning team.”
Dr. Bockman decided to apply for the position over Winter Break. She wor- ried about the transition period another person would cause and is glad she was selected to continue as principal.
“I never viewed the interim role as one of maintenance of the status quo,” Dr. Bockman said. “I am the kind of school leader that takes in an enormous amount of information and tried to develop plans for making schools more ef- fective for teaching and learning. For the last few months I have been looking at class sizes, teaching loads, student performance data and honestly just doing a lot of formal and informal observations of life at Grady.”
One of Dr. Bockman’s immediate plans for Grady is reassessing the role of equity. Beginning in January, Dr. Bockman encouraged teachers to read books centered on structuring the classroom in a fair way. The teachers’ books depend on their subjects, but some include Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why by Paul Tough and Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core: 55 Words that Make or Break Student Understanding by Marilee Sprenger.
Bockman has been serving as Grady’s interim principal since Sept. 12. She has worked in APS for almost 20 years in various teaching and ad- ministrative positions, including as principal of feeder schools Morningside Elementary and Inman Middle.
“Having lived and worked in the Grady community for over 20 years, I am accustomed to the levels of parent engagement, the passion of the students, the academic and performance gaps and the challenging facility concerns,” Dr. Bockman said. “I have high expectations for students and the adults who are responsible for their academic development in the critical high school years.”
Although she understood the school’s culture better than the other candi- dates, according to Dr. Sims, being Grady’s Interim Principal did not help in the application process. Instead, the APS Board and GO Team used a Leader- ship Profile, which was composed of teachers’, students’ and community mem- bers’ opinions, to choose a leader that best fits Grady’s needs. Dr. Sims claimed that the leadership profile will continue to shape how Dr. Bockman approaches her role as principal.
“When we get our leadership profile it paints the picture of a superhero, and people have the expectations that everything on that profile will be found in the new principal,” Dr. Sims said. “The profile spoke to what we knew we needed to look for but it also speaks to what Dr. Bockman needs to make sure she focuses on as she tries to find the balance between what the community wants and what Grady needs.”