B y Jaime Thomas
Jim Donnelly, Granville’s junior/senior high school principal, is resigning at the end of this summer in order to pursue a job opportunity that will take him to China.
Donnelly confirmed his plans Monday, days after he announced his move to school staff and officials.
“I’ve been given a great opportunity,” Donnelly said. “I was offered a position to help design and create a new international school in Beijing.” Though the school is still in its design phase, he said he’ll be filling a unique position in both administrating and consulting and already met with a delegation last weekend in New York City.
“They wanted help on three levels. On the one side, they want help with the exchange system and to develop opportunities for American students to come there. We’re also going to design the first public international high school in Beijing,” Donnelly said.
He said the administration he will be working with is currently designing a curriculum and aligning their instructional methods. He was already exposed to the Chinese school system through a trip he took there last year.
Donnelly, who is about to complete his second year as a principal at Granville, said he was not looking for new job opportunities when this one arose.
“It’s not something I actively went out and pursued—it sort of landed in my lap,” he said. “I feel as though people are a bit shocked.”
But John Shaw, president of the Granville Board of Education, said he is not surprised about this twist.
“I had a summation after he did that trip to China, just a guess on my part. I had no concrete reason to think that, but I did,” he said. Shaw also said he has no hard feelings toward Donnelly after hearing his news.
“I’m just wishing him the best with whatever venture he’s going to do. He’s done a good job while he’s been there,” he said.
Donnelly said his plan is to leave for China Sept. 1, which is immediately after his effective resignation.
“I’ve really valued my time and opportunities in Granville. Everyone has been really great,” he said, “But when I turn 70 or get up into my 80s or 90s, if I didn’t take it I wouldn’t want to regret that.” He already has consulting experience and will be able to tap into his undergraduate major in international relations.
Donnelly was hesitant to share his news Monday, because of the pending graduation.
“This week should be about the kids, not about me. But I had to tell the school board because I wanted to help them get moving with finding someone new— I didn’t want to leave them in the lurch,” he said.
District Superintendent Mark Bessen said it was gracious of Donnelly to give officials more than 30 days notice of his resignation.
“That is a big help for all of us; he’s giving us plenty of time to find a replacement,” he said.
Shaw said the district will pick up the pieces the same as it has before, referencing a number of other principals with short-lived terms.
“We’ve been there before; this is not our first rodeo. Everybody has to climb the ladder, and I’m sure he’s moving on to bigger and better things,” he said.
Bessen said he appreciates Donnelly’s prospect, having traveled to China himself.
“He’s moving on to a great international opportunity. Opportunities like that come by very few times in life, and you have to catch the tiger by the tail,” he said. “He served us well for the two years he was here, and I’m sure that we’ll be hearing great things from him in the future.”