2021 | Schools

New Churchill, Richard Montgomery and Northwest principals appointed

Heads of MCPS virtual academy also named

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The Montgomery County Board of Education on Thursday appointed several administrators, including new principals at Winston Churchill, Richard Montgomery and Northwest high schools.

The school board approved John Taylor as Churchill’s next principal, replacing Brandice Heckert who in June announced she was leaving to take a “leadership position within MCPS.”

Taylor was most recently the principal of Cabin John Middle School. Both Churchill and Cabin John Middle School are in Potomac.

In a letter to the Churchill community, MCPS Director of Learning, Achievement and Administration Peter Moran wrote that Taylor will assume the principalship on July 19.

He wrote that during meetings in June, community members said their priorities for the new leader were a commitment to leading “a strong instructional program with a focus on equity” and who is “accessible, collaborative and knows how to organize others around a common vision of high expectations for all students.”

There will be a community meeting to introduce Taylor at 7 p.m. on July 20 in the Churchill cafeteria.

The school board also appointed Alicia Deeny as the new principal at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, and Scott Smith to head up Northwest High School in Germantown.

Deeny will replace longtime principal Damon Monteleone, who resigned to take an administrative position in MCPS’ central offices. Deeny has worked for MCPS for 22 years and was most recently the principal of Takoma Park Middle School.

At Northwest, Smith, who has worked for MCPS for 15 years, will replace James D’Andrea, who is now Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight’s chief of staff. Smith was most recently an assistant principal at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown.

In a letter announcing Smith’s hiring, MCPS Director of Learning, Achievement and Administration Nicole Sosik wrote that community members had asked for a principal who is “upbeat, energetic” and has a strong background in leading student achievement work. The community also wanted a leader who will be accessible and prioritizes community engagement.

A virtual community meeting to introduce Smith is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on July 21, and an in-person meeting at 6:30 p.m. on July 22.

The school board also named Jennifer Seidel as the new principal at Greenwood Elementary School in Olney. She will replace Carrie Zimmerman, who now is the principal of Tuscarora Elementary School in Frederick County.

Seidel, who has worked for MCPS for 19 years, was previously the assistant principal at Sequoyah Elementary School in Derwood.

In a letter announcing her hiring, Associate Superintendent James Koutsos wrote that Seidel is energetic and can “organize others around a common vision while building morale and commitment.”

An in-person meeting to introduce Seidel is scheduled for 5 p.m. on July 21. A virtual meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the same day.
Also on Thursday, the school board appointed four administrators who will oversee the district’s virtual school, which will begin in the fall.

The virtual academy, called “Montgomery Virtual,” will start in the fall and run the length of the academic year, allowing students who have lingering health concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic to continue taking classes remotely.

Cassandra Heifetz, a 21-year veteran of MCPS, will be the dean for kindergarten through sixth grade. Heifetz was previously the principal of Glen Haven Elementary School in Wheaton.

Steven Orders will be the dean for seventh through 12th grade. Orders has worked for MCPS for 20 years and was most recently a program coordinator at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown.

There will also be two supervisors for the virtual program. Jackie DeLucia was appointed as supervisor of kindergarten through sixth grade, while Dacia Robertson was appointed as supervisor for seventh through 12th grade.

McKnight said the deans will have similar responsibilities as school principals and will oversee the implementation of the virtual program.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com