COLUMBIA — The Columbia Public School District announced Monday that Tracey Conrad will be the new principal at Hickman High School.
Conrad will replace current Principal Mike Jeffers who in February announced his decision to leave Hickman to become deputy director of North Kansas City Secondary Schools.
Conrad has served Hickman as the assistant principal for six years. She will be offered a one-year contract, which is customary, and will begin her new duties July 1.
Conrad was one of two finalists selected for the final round of interviews. Tim Wright, assistant principal at Rock Bridge High School, was also a final candidate.
“We were really fortunate to have two solid candidates to consider,” said Wally Pfeffer, president of the Hickman Parent Teacher Student Association who participated in the interview process. “Having a chance to visit with both, I was equally impressed with them on many levels.”
Superintendent Chris Belcher said Conrad was selected, not because one candidate was better than the other, but because of the process the district uses to fill an open position.
The process includes Hickman parents and faculty who help decide through interviews and surveys which candidate would be the best fit.
“She already knew the teachers,” Belcher said. “She’s full of energy and vitality. She gets along with the parents and kids.”
Pfeffer, who has volunteered and worked with Columbia schools for more than 25 years, said Conrad’s sense of humor helped sell her as the best candidate for the position.
“She had a very ready wit,” Pfeffer said. “I saw that in her meeting with the teachers.”
Conrad also applied for the position at Rock Bridge left open by Principal Kathy Ritter's retirement, but the job went to Mark Maus, an assistant principal at Oak Park High School in Kansas City. Conrad said she wasn't disappointed and didn't feel slighted.
“It really would have been an honor to be at either school,” she said.
Conrad said she applied for the position at Hickman because of her familiarity with the school and its environment, deciding it was the next step to take.
“My experience here at Hickman was pivotal in my decision,” she said. “I love the students and I love the school.”
Conrad received her doctorate in education at MU. Prior to joining Hickman, she was a science teacher in Sturgeon for grades seven through 12 from 1985 to 1995 and middle school principal from 1995 to 1999.
She then moved to Columbia and became the administrative assistant at Lange Middle School for one year before moving up to assistant principal in 2000.
Conrad said she can’t wait to start her “dream job” this summer and is looking forward to picking up where Jeffers left off.
“I think I can continue in the process,” she said. “I know where we’ve been, and I know where we want to go. I feel very confident that we’re not going to skip a beat.”