Menlo Park Academy (MPA) named its new principal, Phyllis (Alford) Robinson, after interviews with internal and external candidates by a selection committee including staff, administration, teachers, parents, and Board members. As previously communicated, previous administrative roles were combined and split into two main leadership roles in the education area – the Director of Education position (Sh’Annon Caldwell) as supported by the MPA Principal (Phyllis Robinson). This shift prioritizes students by bringing their expertise in gifted education to the top academic leadership position.
MPA interviewed several qualified candidates for the position. However, Phyllis’ experience and record at Menlo made her stand out to the panel members. Board of Directors and search committee member Tiffany Randle stated, “Phyllis was a wonderful addition to Menlo’s administrative team for the 2021-22 school year. As our Dean of Student Life, Phyllis provided leadership for the Social Emotional Learning & Intervention teams and for student clubs and activities such as student council and Edison Club.” Tiffany added, “she also regularly served as a friendly and fair escalation point for parents seeking guidance and support for their students.” Tiffany and Sh’Annon each noted that “Phyllis has a true student-first mindset.”
“With Mrs. Robinson as MPA Principal, I will be able to focus on the important strategic planning and programmatic structure first envisioned by the founders of Menlo Park Academy,” said Sh’Annon Caldwell. She continued, “Our Principal will be integral in ensuring the execution of our program and delivery standards are in alignment with the mission and vision of Menlo. I am elated for Menlo to have another administrator to support our students, families, teachers, and community members.” When asked what she enjoys most about Menlo’s community, Phyllis replied, “I love how involved parents are as they support moving students towards a successful, whole child experience at Menlo.” Furthermore, she commented that she believes “Menlo students are special because many take ownership in their educational experiences.”
Before serving MPA, Phyllis was a middle school teacher for over a decade, primarily assigned to social studies and science classes. While the 2022-23 school year will be MPA’s first year with a dedicated principal role, it will be the fourteenth year that Phyllis has held such a role. Most notably, she served for ten years as the principal of Hope Academy (K-8), the educational home to over four hundred students and almost fifty professional staff members. “Phyllis’ administrative experiences coupled with her enthusiasm for students and families made the decision to promote internally a win-win for all of us here at Menlo,” said Sh’Annon Caldwell. Our new principal holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Arts in School Administration.
In light of her promotion, Phyllis expressed excitement about taking on the role. She said, “I will have the opportunity to carry out and support the original vision and mission of the school, supporting our Director of Education, Sh’Annon Caldwell, and I believe we can strive to elevate Menlo Park Academy as a premiere school for gifted children Ohio and beyond.”
Phyllis enjoys camping, swimming, and traveling to explore other cultures. She looks forward to “meeting our newest Menlo community members and continuing to establish great relationships with our parent community and all stakeholders.”
Menlo Leadership Structure No Longer a School Director but a Director of Education supported by a Principal
Over the past thirteen years, MPA’s position of School Director was responsible for gifted instruction design, program, and classroom delivery standards, as well as day-to-day leadership executing those designs, programs, and standards, while supporting educational staff, families, and students. The Board of Directors split these responsibilities by creating a Director of Education role focusing on Menlo’s academic program and an MPA Principal role ensuring day-to-day intentional delivery of Menlo’s program.