Dr. Munk Accepts Consulting Principal Promotion, Announcing Departure from RHS


Munk sitting at her desk during the school day. Adam Bensimhon

Munk sitting at her desk during the school day. Adam Bensimhon
Munk sitting at her desk during the school day. Adam Bensimhon

After eight years as principal at RHS, Dr. Debra Munk will be leaving after accepting a job offer to be a consulting principal for MCPS.

Her new job is a three-year position in which an experienced principal mentors new or struggling principals. She will be given a case load of about 12 principals from middle and high schools around Montgomery County who she will meet with at least weekly. “I hope down the road a principal who has had a number of years will say “I had a good start because I had Debra Munk as my consulting principal,a��” said Dr. Munk.

Dr. Munk was offered this job twice before but always declined because she did not want to leave RHS. After being considered for many jobs around the country, Dr. Munk decided it was time to try something new. Dr. Munk said, “It helped me realize that maybe I could leave RHS, I guess they could survive without me.”

Dr. Munk is also a consulting principal for Research for Better Learning, taking leave about once a month to go to Massachusetts to help the principals there. The company offered her a full-time position, which Dr. Munk declined. She was also considered for a Superintendent position in Oregon. “I was not looking for another job, not at all. I don’t know what I thought; maybe I thought I would just die here,” said Dr. Munk.

As Dr. Munk takes on her new challenges, RHS will also take on a new challenge of selecting a new principal that will fit the community. Office of School Support and Improvement (OSSI) is entirely in charge of the selection of the new principal. OSSI is, however, giving the RHS community a say in the process.

A meeting was held for staff on April 29 and will be held for the community on April 30. In addition, the SGA has been given the opportunity to create a new survey for RHS students, giving them their opportunity to voice their opinion in the selection process.

SGA President junior Betsy Gorman has been a part of SGA for three years and will have an even larger role next year as senior president. Like many other students, Gorman has an idea of what she would like to see in the new principal. “I hope for more of a focus on education and less of a focus on less-important things such as dress code and I would like administration to be more responsive to student wants, morale, feelings and opinion,” said Gorman.

After hearing from the RHS community, a panel for choosing the new principal will be selected by OSSI. The panel will include staff members, students and parents, who will sit in on interviews, helping to determine who the new RHS principal will be.

The search for a new principal began once Dr. Munk made her decision, announcing it to teachers on April 23, and then students on April 24. The most common question going around among RHS students is if they will be allowed to wear yoga pants next year. Students have not always been Dr. Munk’s biggest fans when it comes to her policies, as seen in the yoga pants outrages students have had over the past two years.

The policy against yoga pants at RHS was created by Dr. Munk, but now that she is leaving, students believe that there is a possibility of getting to wear yoga pants to school. Freshman Paige Hailstock has three years left at RHS and hopes to be able to wear the comfortable pants in class. “It’s amazing [that I might get to wear yoga pants] because I’d wear them almost every day if we didn’t have this rule,” said Hailstock.

However, something the students may not realize is that even though they may not have been wearing the most comfortable clothes to school, the opportunities they have been given and the education they have received are much better than if they attended RHS ten years ago.

In the past three years alone, scores on AP and IB tests have increased significantly. In 2010, 43.8 percent of students taking an AP test scored a 3 or higher; in 2012, that number became 57.7 percent. In the past year, there has also been a 55 point increase in average student scores on the SAT. There have also been significantly more students taking these tests, and while many schools often see a dip in scores as participation increases, RHS did not see any such change.

In addition to an increase in test scores, discipline referrals have gone down consistently every year. “I remember five years ago I was dealing with a different set of violations than I am now. I am talking to students about very low-maintenance kind of things and it’s great,” said Assistant Principal Brad Rohner.

This year’s graduation marks the last of her graduations as RHS Principal. Dr. Munk said, “If I had to have a class be my last, I’m glad it was the class of 2013.”