Principal Thomas Drescher announced his immediate resignation on January 28, a sudden change from his previously planned resignation date of June 30.
Drescher sent an email to staff during the day and another to community members later that evening, citing “a recent change in personal circumstance” for his early departure. He left campus early and was unavailable to comment.
When asked about effects of the principal’s early resignation, Assistant Principal Brian Lynch said, “I’m wondering if [Drescher’s departure] is unsettling for teachers, and I would imagine that it trickles down to students.”
Drescher originally announced in early November that he would be resigning in June. “I am completing my doctorate in education leadership this spring and am looking forward to beginning a new chapter in my life,” he said via a community-wide email announcement at the time.
In his more recent email, Drescher said he had requested a transfer to the district office for the remainder of his time in the district to ensure an easy transition for Tam. He also expressed gratitude for the time he spent at Tam “working with an outstanding group of teachers, administrators, and staff who possess deep commitments to supporting the learning of all students,” phrasing copied word-for-word from his November 6 email.
“He needed to do what he needed to do,” said Lynch. “We’re just trying to stay focused on the work and making sure students and staff feel safe and supported here.”
As of February 4, Dr. Robert Vieth has been hired as an interim principal until a permanent replacement is selected for next school year. “Dr. Vieth comes to us with a wealth of teaching and leadership experience,” wrote
Tamalpais Union High School District Superintendent Laurie Kimbrel in a January 29 email to the Tam community. “He has served for 19 years as a public school principal with 11 of those years at the high school level, most recently at San Marin High School in Novato.” Vieth has a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy from U.C.L.A., an M.A. in Special Education from St. Mary’s College, and a B.A. in Biology from UC Berkeley.
Though Drescher has made efforts to minimize the effects of his sudden departure on the school, concerns have arisen from staff regarding the high amount of turnover that Tam administration has experienced recently. “We’re dealing, at this point, with an administration that doesn’t have a very long history at Tam,” said math teacher Peter Foster, who emphasized the merits of “having someone who has been here for a longer period of time, and knows all the issues and ins and outs.”
Art teacher Lisa Ouse-Hicks argues that the change in principal will have minimal effect on students and staff. “We have a lot of systems already in place, we know what to do…things have been decided and set,” she said.
Currently, the homepage of Tam’s website offers a survey “to help inform the district as we prepare a profile of the attributes we would like for the next Tam High School principal to possess.” Kimbrel said in a November interview that the search for a permanent principal will be extensive. “We’ll have community forums, forums of students, and forums for staff to make a list of the characteristics that they think we need in the next principal. From there we’ll develop a profile of the person we’re looking for, and we’ll recruit,” she said.
Students and staff tended to cite availability and transparency as desirable qualities in a new principal.
“We would like someone who is a good communicator, who talks to the students, and parents, and community,” art teacher Lynne Klein said. “We’d like somebody who is super visible on campus, goes to the games, goes to the plays, walks around, knows people’s names, walks into the classroom.”
Foster’s hopes for the new principal stem from a disconnect he sees between Tam staff and district administration. “Many teachers whom I speak with are very dissatisfied with the lack of communication from the district administration,” he said. “It’s perceived to be an almost unwillingness to listen to teacher complaints, frustrations, and concerns that we have about various issues in the district.”
Other teachers declined to comment on recent developments, citing discomfort with going on the record.