Mr. Tranchi to step down as principal

Ashley Mashian

BACK TO THE LAB: General Studies Principal Phu Tranchi, shown here making ice cream with his AP Chem last year, will teach science and serve as Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the 2011-12 school year. He's been accepted into a doctoral program in education at UCLA.

Zev Hurwitz, Editor-in-Chief

General Studies Principal Phu Tranchi will be stepping down for next year to pursue a doctorate in education, and next year’s administration will be led by current Judaic Studies Principal Rabbi Ari Leubitz, according to an e-mail sent to the Shalhevet community by incoming head of school Rabbi Ari Segal.

Mr. Tranchi will become Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and still teach several science classes at Shalhevet and chair the Science Department — all while studying in UCLA’s Educational Leadership Program, a 36-month program on education and instruction and culminates in a doctorate degree.

The change was his idea, Mr. Tranchi said.

“Theoretically, the idea of stepping down was to remove me from day to day things,” said Mr. Tranchi, who has been principal since 2008. “Instruction and curriculum are areas I want to focus on.”

Rabbi Segal’s e-mail, sent April 8, outlined a rearranging of all principal duties.

“Rabbi Leubitz will oversee most of the day to day supervision within the building,” Rabbi Segal wrote in a message that started with a Passover d’var Torah. “This will include schedules, calendar, handbooks, athletic program, Judaic programs, discipline and many other of the critical functions to ‘make the trains run on-time’ at the school.”

He said Mr. Tranchi would “handle teacher observations and teacher coaching across General and Judaic Studies and will also oversee curriculum development in the General Studies realm.”

Meanwhile, current Dean of Students Roy Danovitch will be Acting General Studies Principal, Rabbi Segal told the Boiling Point in an interview April 4. The detailed e-mail said Mr. Danovitch would be in charge of student activities,  senior projects and curriculum, recruiting, student issues, parent communication, and “many other important functions that make use of his skills.”

Although not officially announced to the student and parent body, a broad outline of the coming change became widely known after several teachers and parents related it to students in late March. Mr. Tranchi and Mr. Danovitch were not authorized to talk to The Boiling Point on the record before any official announcement was made.

But contacted in Houston, where he is currently head of school at the Robert M. Beren Academy, Rabbi Segal confirmed that Mr. Tranchi was stepping aside and said new appointments were part of a larger revisiting of administrative positions for the 2011-2012 school year.

“The administration is not a jigsaw puzzle,” Rabbi Segal said in a phone interview. “Faculty and administrators will be given roles based on their different skill sets.”

He also said Mr. Tranchi would be in his new role, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, for the “foreseeable future.”

“[Mr. Tranchi’s] graduate program will focus on these areas so it’s fitting that he will take on a role that involves curriculum and instruction,” he said, adding that a job chart outlining all administrative roles and duties would be available to the community over the summer. “Titles are very broad, and we’re going to try to create clarity for who to go to for what issues.”

Rabbi Segal said that Mr. Danovitch’s new title would be Acting General Studies Principal, and that he would also teach English next year. Mr. Danovitch said that in his new role, he would continue his cur rent focus on students.

“Instruction of students is our top prioirty” Mr. Danovitch said. “We need to support students through good relationships with their teachers. This is my most important goal.”

He also noted that next year’s administration would be a “team effort.”

“Collaboration with teachers and parents is crucial for maximizng effectiveness ,” he said. “ This means inviting everyone into the process so that everyone has their voice heard.”