Superintendent and new Principal Andrew Withers are hoping that twice is nice.
Withers, 37, was hired last week as the school’s fourth principal in four years, and in looking to find a long-term principal for Park, Johnson reached back to his previous school district to hire Withers for the second time.
Withers comes to Park from the Loomis Union School District in Placer County, where he’s been principal at Penryn Elementary School for the past five years. Johnson after six years as the superintendent in the Loomis district and hired Withers there.
“I absolutely love the school I’m leaving – I wasn’t looking for a job,” said Withers, who had his final interview for the position Aug. 9. “But I’m thrilled to work with Paul again. He is the type of leader who inspires creativity and growth. I grew more in my career in the years that I worked for Paul than at any time in my career.”
An indication of Withers happiness in his current job is the fact that he’s still doing it. Penryn went back to school last week, while Park doesn’t start its 2012-2013 school year until Sept. 10 to accommodate the there and at and schools.
Withers spent time in both districts last week and his last day at Penryn is Friday, Aug. 24.
And in a serendipitous move that sealed the deal for him to accept the Park School job, his aunt, Barbara Caruso, just bought a house in the Gerstle Park neighborhood of San Rafael, and he’ll be staying there a few days a week until he can come up with a long-term plan.
Withers’ wife Amanda is an English language teacher in Rocklin, Calif., and their daughters, Charlotte and Elizabeth, are in second and sixth grade, respectively. They’ll be staying in that area for the time being, Withers said.
Withers has spent 14 years in education. A graduate of California Lutheran University with a Master of Education from California State University-Sacramento, he got his start in the Loomis district as a teacher in kindergarten, second and sixth grades. He served as a vice principal and principal in the Natomas Unified School District before Johnson hired him for the Penryn post.
“He has tremendous interpersonal skills in working with teachers and parents – he’s a unifier,” Johnson said of Withers. “He’s definitely the right match for Park School at this time.”
Johnson acknowledged that district officials and the Park community of parents, teachers and staff are all looking for some stability at the top. In 2009-2010, Jim Derich filled in for Peg Katz while she was on maternity leave. Katz returned for one year before moving to New York, and lasted just one year at the helm.
Park parent Lisa Baldwin said that while parents are hoping for some continuity, the school’s stalwart group of longtime staff and teachers has made the recent turbulence manageable.
“It’s such a cohesive and tight and on the ball group,” she said.
As Withers wraps up his final days at Penryn, he said he can’t wait to get to work at Park.
“The way this whole thing has come together, it’s almost meant to be,” Withers said. “The more I’ve learned about Park, the more excited I get.”