The Lawrence school district has chosen a new principal for Sunflower School, one of six schools that will have a new leader in August.
Pending approval by the Lawrence school board, Jill Smith, of Paola, will fill the vacancy left by Shea Stanfield, who resigned May 24. A committee of Sunflower staff members and parents recommended Smith after interviewing several candidates.
Lesa Frantz, Pinckney School principal and co-chair of the selection committee, said Smith was its top choice.
"Jill has six years of administrative experience," she said. "She has a Lawrence background. I just think she's going to be a real exciting leader, and I'm looking forward to working with her as a fellow administrator."
Smith will leave her post as principal at Louisburg Elementary School in Louisburg to take the job at Sunflower, 2521 Inverness. Before that, she was a principal in Osage City and a third-grade teacher in Leavenworth. Smith earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Kansas University and is working on a doctorate there.
With more than 500 students, Sunflower is the fourth largest elementary school in the Lawrence district. Julie Boyle, communications director for Lawrence schools, said Smith's Louisburg school was close to the same size about 440 students.
Gary Foulke, Sunflower teacher and selection committee member, said Smith had a history of setting up programs that focused on communicating with parents. That makes her a good candidate for Sunflower, he said, which has a strong parental support base.
"It's pretty clear she puts a lot of emphasis on communicating and working with parents," Foulke said. "We've got terrific parents at Sunflower. It turned out she was a really good match for us."
Five other Lawrence schools will have new principals next academic year:
Sunset Hill School Chris Bay, teacher at Grant School in Lawrence.
Cordley School Kim Bodensteiner, assistant director of Three Lakes Educational Cooperative in Lyndon.
Quail Run School Paulette Strong, principal of Grant and Woodlawn elementary schools in Lawrence.
Woodlawn and Grant schools Joni Appleman, principal of Stout School in Topeka.