Updated: Dec 2, 2021
New horizons are on the way for the ERHS community. As we part ways with our beloved former principal, Ms. Keipp, we must also welcome a new chapter and a new personality with open arms. As of December 1st, ERHS will have a new principal: Mr. Derek Steinorth, who previously served as a teacher and administrator here at ERHS. After Ms. Keipp received a promotion to become head of middle school instruction, she stayed at ERHS for an additional month, until October 29, leaving a period of time between her last day and Mr. Steinorth’s first day. During this time, Mr. Omar Del Cueto acted as our interim principal and kept things running smoothly until a new principal was selected. You may have seen him at the La Roda entrance in the morning, greeting students and checking their Daily Passes, or walking around campus. He’s been a positive presence, and we were fortunate to have him.
The months of October and November were used to select our new principal. Mr. Titus Campos, the Community of Schools Administrator for the Eagle Rock-Highland Park area, facilitated the process. Along with Ms. Keipp, he created a flyer posted on the LAUSD Human Resources website with the job opening. Some requirements for application included experience as a teacher and administrator/supervisory position in public school and California teaching credentials. Candidates had to apply by October 21.
A diverse committee was also organized on campus, consisting of representatives of different stakeholders at ERHS. There were 19 members total: Erin Choi, a senior and the ASB president; Mr. Lord, an assistant principal; Mr. Oliveros, an art teacher; Mr. Malmed; the IB coordinator; Mr. Rodriguez, a math teacher; and several others including a 7th grader, a 9th grader, an ELA teacher, a special-ed teacher, a counselor, a secretary, the community representative, and three parents. They all went through training from the LAUSD Human Resources Division. “The first time it was an informational meeting, and sort of a training on how to identify what was confidential and how to identify great responses to the questions [we would ask],” said Erin Choi. “After that, we went through another meeting to establish the applicants because once they apply, they have to also meet all of the…[many] requirements that you need to have as a principal. So we identified the official applicants and narrowed them down,” she added.
Mr. Malmed outlined the next step, “Then we had a paper screening where we read cover letters, and we as a group would evaluate them, have a discussion and see if we were all on the same page.”
“We used a specific rubric to rate each candidate and we ended up selecting the top five for interviews,” Mr. Campos said. Choi described this aspect of the process as sort of “an interview on paper”. The 12 cover letters that the group examined were reduced to 5 candidates that would complete an in person interview.
Next, the in-person interviews commenced. Mr. Malmed explained the process: “Five candidates came into the library and we all sat around in a U shaped arrangement and asked questions. We assigned questions to individual people on the committee. Sometimes we'd ask follow-up questions. [With each candidate], we would do the same thing. We would rate them and have discussions anytime we weren’t on the same page,” The interviews took place during school, from around 8:30 to 2:00 on. The entire process took upwards of 15 hours in total, but was spread out between 2-3 weeks.
The selection committee was chosen to address and represent the different needs of each part of the ERHS community. “Part of the reason why I wanted to join is to ensure that I felt like my department was represented in this committee; I wanted to make sure that we had the opportunity to express our specific concerns,” Mr. Oliveros said. “A more personal reason is because my son is going to be at the school in 10 years. Also, this is where I live half of my life. And I think it was important for me to make sure that whoever came to help guide or lead us was someone that I thought was capable of doing that.”
Speaking from her perspective as a senior, Erin Choi said, “From a student perspective, the most important thing was “knowing that they'll continue to keep the school culture, like improve things and maybe implement new things that’ll improve our school, but at the same time, keep the traditions of our school. I was representing the student population of our school, but also the seniors. From my perspective, because I’m a senior, I went in with a mindset of 'how can I leave the school in good hands?' ”
As the IB representative, Mr. Malmed was looking for “someone who had a lot of experience, someone who understood how Eagle Rock works, and also just understands how public schools work - and as I already alluded to, someone who had a strong background in IB.“
A more general quality they looked for was communication. According to Mr. Oliveros “I think that if we have someone who's able to keep us in the loop and be super transparent about what the next steps are for Eagle Rock; that was one of the hallmarks of their personalities that I was looking for; you know, someone who just wants to be an open book, and help us move forward without it being kind of a mystery,”. In the end, they chose Mr. Steinorth. In Mr. Malmed’s words, “he had every box checked”.
Get to Know Mr. Steinorth
Mr. Steinorth has worked for LAUSD since 1990, and started at Eagle Rock in 1994. Although he began his career in education as a history teacher, being the magnet coordinator at ERHS helped him realize his passion for administration and his dream of being a principal. According to Mr. Steinorth, who we interviewed, “It's not very often in your life that you get to have one of your dreams come true... I obviously worked at Eagle Rock for 25 years. The school means a lot to me. And so I really consider it probably the greatest honor of my lifetime to get to lead the school.”
Mr. Oliveros described Mr. Steinorth’s return as a “homecoming”. “I think that there’s value in understanding that someone wants to be here,” he said. Mr. Steinorth’s devotion to Eagle Rock is apparent in the welcome letter he sent out shortly after the news was announced. You can read it for more about his background in education. In regards to anticipating his first day back as a member of the faculty, he gushed, “I think I'm just excited and proud to be the principal of the school, and I can't wait to get there and start working with everybody again and then see all of you lovely students. “
Needless to say, Mr. Steinorth is quite prepared to take up the torch as our new principal. As he makes this transition, we celebrate new beginnings and a welcome reunion with an old friend.