Advice For Our New Principal, Mr. Srithai

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On April 24, the Board of Education unanimously approved a two-year contract for Tony Srithai to be BHS principal, starting with the 2017-18 school year.

Srithai brings a number of impressive credentials, including a Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees in education-related fields from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as experience as a teacher and administrator.

Even though these credentials are impressive, they will not automatically make him successful as BHS principal.

He hasn’t served as a high school administrator before, something which might take time to get used to.

He still has to get acclimated to our school by becoming familiar with students, staff and school culture.

With that in mind, we have some advice for Mr. Srithai, to make his transition a little bit easier.

Welcome to Beachwood, Mr. Srithai. We hope you like it here.

The first piece of advice is to take advantage of the unique situation handed to you.

It is not often that a position opens up at a fairly prestigious and diverse public high school, one that was ranked fifth in the state and second in Northeast Ohio based on ODE data according to, has a relatively small student body of 617 and is supported by a community that places a high value on a quality public education.

We strongly urge you to take advantage of this by fully supporting some of the fantastic programs offered here, such as the Excel TECC marketing program, the culinary arts program, the design and innovation program and our numerous award-winning sports and extracurriculars, with an eye on further improving our educational experience.

We have it all, from state champion runners and All-Ohio quarterbacks, to students who consistently make Beachwood a top-performing school in competitions such as Model UN, Science Olympiad and Academic Challenge, to an award-winning orchestra that traveled to Europe and got to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra in November.

We feel that you will begin to appreciate our diversity, in both race and culture, as well as in interests and talents, when you begin your job as principal later this year; and you will recognize how, in spite of our differences, we are all unified in our passion both equality and academic achievement.

At the same time, we acknowledge that there are aspects of our culture that could be improved. At times, we need to do a better job of respecting and supporting one another, respecting those who are different from us and appreciating our advantages. We hope that you will help us to address some of these issues as well.

The second piece of advice we have is to establish a rapport with the community and school.

It is important for a principal to have a strong academic background, but it is equally important for him or her to have strong relationships with students and staff.

Some principals fail to connect with students on a basic level, which either leads to establishing an authoritarian persona or makes them shrink from the spotlight, losing respect from the majority of students.

Establishing a rapport with the community early on will ensure that you avoid these pitfalls and enable you to become a tough but fair principal, one who is both respected and well-liked by the students, and who tries his hardest to expand the options and quality of the education offered to Beachwood students.

An issue that could arise between you and the teachers is the transition from North Carolina, a state which, according to a 2012 study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, has some of the weakest teachers unions in the country, and where there, technically, are no teachers unions, to a state like Ohio, where the unions are extremely strong.

We ultimately feel, however, that this will not be a very big issue, due to the fact that you have experience as both an administrator and an educator, but it is something to keep in mind.

The third piece of advice we have for Mr. Srithai is to try to make your mark on our school culture.

Beachwood students need to realize that there is more to celebrate than success on the athletic field.

Too often, we only want to celebrate accomplishments on this paradigm, which is definitely well-deserved, but we have so much more to celebrate in other areas.

For example, for the past two years, we have had the Bison Feast and Fest, a celebration of all the diversity Beachwood offers in a flurry of food, performances and culture.

This event has been a massive success both times, so why isn’t it celebrated as much as our athletic success?

Sometimes our inflexible view of school spirit as being strictly sports-related prevents us from truly recognizing some of the most remarkable aspects of our school community.

As principal, you should make an effort to promote events like the Bison Feast and Fest as much as our athletic teams, which would, hopefully, open up new avenues for school spirit, and increase it overall.

Despite all these suggestions, we have one main piece of advice for Mr. Srithai: Be yourself, and don’t change too much about yourself.

You wouldn’t have gotten into this position if you weren’t already intelligent, easy to get along with and very well-respected professionally.

We trust that our school district leaders knew what they were doing when they picked someone like you to lead us for the next two years and beyond, and that you will most likely slide in effortlessly as another key piece of our school district and community.

Welcome to Beachwood, Mr. Srithai. We hope you like it here.