Dear City Garden Community,

More than 100 members of our community—including students, parents and guardians, guides and staff, and board members—participated in the process to select City Garden’s next principal.

THANK YOU for engaging in this process with us!

Your input not only helped inform the decision-making regarding our next school leader, but will also help us work to create a stronger, more inclusive and more equitable school community.

The hiring committee took every bit of feedback into account. The hiring committee was made up of 21 people and included representatives from each staff team (16 individuals), parents and guardians (3 individuals), and the board (two individuals). The committee reviewed all of the feedback and data from the community input survey and Zoom feedback sessions, panel interviews, and action interviews. The feedback and data were disaggregated by race and stakeholder group. To determine who the finalist candidate or candidates would be, facilitators guided the hiring committee in utilizing a consensus decision-making process that invited committee members to “agree,” “agree with reservations,” “stand aside,” or “block” a decision. If there were two or more “blocks” from People of Color or from the same stakeholder group, or if there were any blocks from guides or staff, we did not move forward. The committee deliberated for more than four hours, and, ultimately, the committee recommended Crystal Isom as our finalist candidate.

On Monday, May 18th, Ms. Isom then participated in a “fishbowl-style” Community Roundtable Dialogue with students, guides and staff, parents and guardians, administrators and board members. Community members shared the joys and challenges of being part of City Garden, and Ms. Isom was invited to share her reflections and thoughts, as well as what she might need as the new leader of City Garden. The whole City Garden community was invited to observe the Community Roundtable Dialogue and then share their final feedback regarding Ms. Isom.

The hiring committee ultimately agreed, through consensus, to recommend Ms. Isom to the City Garden administration and board to be hired as City Garden’s next principal. The board approved the hire of Ms. Isom at a board meeting on Thursday, May 20th. An offer was extended to Ms. Isom, and I am thrilled to report that she has accepted!

Thus, it is with great excitement that I share with you that we have hired Ms. Crystal Isom as City Garden’s next principal. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Isom to our community. We look forward to working as a community over the coming weeks and months to, as Maria Montessori would say, “prepare the environment” for a strong transition.

Ms. Isom will officially begin her post as principal in July, and she will be participating in the Montessori training program City Garden is launching this summer.

Please read more about Ms. Isom here:

Ms. Isom is looking forward to an incredible school year at City Garden! The community fish bowl activity and meeting with various stakeholders was truly inspiring! Ms. Isom feels grateful to be collaborating with and learning from her students, families, colleagues and such an incredible group of people.

Ms. Isom has been an educator for twenty-five years serving students with disabilities and leading pre-K through 12th grade schools in Missouri and North Carolina. Ms. Isom has served a variety of schools that have consistently met and exceeded academic outcomes for students. Ms. Isom’s most recent school was recognized as a national middle school to watch.

Ms. Isom studied at Lincoln University (Missouri) where she obtained her undergraduate degree, and she obtained her graduate degrees from North Carolina Central University and North Carolina State University, and Ed.S from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Isom is a graduate of National Institute of School Leadership (MoLead) and Duke University’s Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership.

In her spare time she loves taking cooking classes at Dierbergs, reading good books, finding hidden goodies at thrift stores and spending time with family and friends.

Thank you again, City Garden, for engaging in this important process. I look forward to working with you to continue to build a strong, healthy, equitable school community