Srithai Brings Student-Centered Approach
May 17, 2017
The Beachwood Board of Education voted unanimously on April 24 to approve a two-year contract for Tony Srithai as new BHS principal.
“It was a long and thorough process to get this job,” Srithai said. “But I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be the new principal of BHS.”
District administrators began with over 70 applicants, who were narrowed to ten by a review of applications. Next, the list of candidates was reduced through a series of phone interviews, followed by two in-person interviews with each candidate, conducted by a panel of administrators.
The two finalists were Srithai and Strongsville High School Principal Mark Smithberger. Both were given tours of the high school and the rest of the district.
Finally, in separate meetings on April 9, the candidates met with students, teachers and the general public.
Superintendent Bob Hardis reflected on the long and thorough process of selecting a candidate to recommend to the Board of Education .
“We wanted to find the right person for Beachwood, and to ensure that Beachwood was the right place for that person,” he said.
Hardis found that the right person for Beachwood was Srithai.
“I felt he had the best grasp on where Beachwood High School’s students and families stand right now… our values and interests,” Hardis said. “He is best-equipped to meet the goals that this community has for our high school.”
Hardis also identified Srithai’s character as a major factor in his selection.
“To use an expression Dr. Markwardt used to use, I know Srithai has both the head and the heart,” he said. “The ‘head’ meaning his thought process — his ability to think on his feet — and the ‘heart’ meaning prioritizing what is best for the students.”
Srithai recently moved from his home state of North Carolina, where he held multiple administrative positions and taught science for four years in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. But now that he is in Ohio, he says that Beachwood couldn’t be a better fit for him.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” he said. “I think Beachwood is a great fit.”
Srithai also seems excited to be back in a school setting.
“This a move I’ve been seeking out for a long time”, he said. “I’ve wanted to get back inside a building setting.”
“Coming from outside, I felt an almost immediate familiarity,” he said of BHS. “There’s a high academic demand similar to that in Chapel Hill.”
Srithai’s move from North Carolina was motivated in part by the birth of his son. He and his wife decided to move closer to her parents, who live near Sandusky.
“Everyone was super understanding, knowing that my priorities shifted when my son was born,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here without the support of family and friends.”
His co-workers from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School district reflected on their time with Srithai.
Steven Weber, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District, described Srithai as innovative in his approach to instruction.
“Mr. Srithai wants to transform the educational experience for students,” he wrote in an email. “He understands that instructional strategies and learning space must meet the needs of today’s learner, not the needs of adults.”
Victoria Lunetta Creamer, Principal of Ephesus Elementary School, explained Srithai’s approach to education as student-centered.
“Mr. Srithai is qualified to be the principal at Beachwood because he will always put students first,” she wrote in an email. “He is aware of the many barriers some face, both internal and external to their schooling, and he actively seeks ways to problem-solve removing them.”
The first thing on Srithai’s to-do list is to to find ways to collaborate with other leaders in the school district.
“It’s important to find ways to learn how the schools are supporting students throughout the whole district,” he said.
Srithai will begin working over the summer to meet with teachers, students and parents, both individually and in groups, in order to become familiar with their needs.
“As a leader, I want to be as visible as possible,” he said. “It is important for me to spend time in classes and have face-to-face time with students.”
Srihai will assume the job position for the 2017-2018 school year under a two-year contract, earning $114, 762.
Once the summer heat rolls into the colors of autumn, BHS will enter a new era: the Tony Srithai Era.