Students and faculty recently received the unexpected news of Orange Principal Dr. Kathy McFarland stepping down after the first semester of the 2017-18 school year. Following her departure, Assistant Principal Mr. Trond Smith will be taking the job as principal and Orange Middle School Assistant Principal Mr. Chris Saiben will replace Smith as assistant principal.
The decision to step down as principal and pursue a new job came as a surprise to Dr.McFarland just as much as it did to everyone else, and the news has left people within the Orange community wondering how the decision came about and what’s to come in the future.
“Last month, I received a phone call from a parent who [wanted to] talk to me about a potential opportunity for a career move because he thought I’d be a good fit,” she said. At first, she wasn’t interested in the job. “This is where I want to be. I really had planned on being here, not forever, but for probably another five to seven years,” she said.
Upon research to learn more about the Ohio School Boards Association, which is where she will begin working after the first of the year, she discovered what it is. According to the OSBA’s website, its mission is to “lead the way to educational excellence by serving Ohio’s public school board members and the diverse districts they represent.”
“Boards of Education govern the schools that are within districts,” she said. “OSBA’s job is to support the Boards of Education because they have a direct line to you guys.”
Dr.McFarland compares her new job at OSBA to her current job as principal of Orange. “It’s very similar to what I’m doing now. I oversee all of [our departments] to make sure they’re doing what’s good for kids. Same thing, just at a state level. My new job is to make sure OSBA’s teams are supporting the 714 Boards of Education in Ohio because they make decisions that affect students,” she said. “Anything the Boards of Education would need to govern their districts: I oversee that.”
With Dr. McFarland’s departure comes a promotion for current Assistant Principal Trond Smith. Beginning his new position on Jan. 2 when teachers return from Christmas break, Smith is excited for the opportunity.
“I do hold a Principal’s license and have been a high school teacher, coach and administrator for 25 years,” he said. “I believe strongly in servant leadership and could not be more excited to help our students reach their potential.” According to Smith, he and Dr. McFarland are “working very hard to make sure this is a smooth transition for staff and students,” and he does not anticipate any drastic changes being made in the middle of the school year. Rather, he plans to continue to constantly evaluate ways to push the boundaries of the success of students.
Although Dr. McFarland will be leaving us as principal come this winter, she intends on staying apart of the Orange family. “I have been invited to graduation,” she said. “I want to make sure I continue to see you guys.”
Despite the career move being one she feels ready for, Dr. McFarland still struggled with the decision to leave. “I won’t be walking side-by-side with students anymore,” she said. “I have justified it in my head and heart by thinking that I’m bringing your faces with me. Even though I don’t see you every day, I’m working for you.”
With her departure drawing near, Dr. McFarland had some parting words of wisdom to share with her Orange family. “Greatness lives within each one of you. It doesn’t matter your IQ, how much money you have in the bank or how pretty your house is. It is within each one of you. If you can just believe in that, set goals, create plans, work to those goals, dream big, keep fighting and surround yourself with good people, have a little bit of grit and take care of yourself: you guys will rule the world. I think that’s always been my purpose: to look at you guys and say ‘Listen, you have it. You are great- it’s in all of you. You can do whatever you want.’