TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury School Committee met on April 13, 2022 at TMHS. All members were present.
Dorothy Presser, field director for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, briefed the committee on the search for district superintendents. The search began in February with the retirement of Superintendent Chris Malone; the district formed a research committee of parents, teachers, students, and other community stakeholders to discuss the qualities of a superintendent for success, and released a community survey.
The district received 21 applications for the vacant position. Six applicants were interviewed by the search committee and four finalists were sent to be interviewed by the school committee.
Brent Conway is vice-principal of the Pentucket Regional School District, which includes Groveland, Merrimac and West Newbury, and is a resident of Tewksbury. A former principal and teacher at Melrose, he has focused on teaching literacy and evidence-based curriculum development during his 25-year career and is currently pursuing a doctorate in leadership in education.
Darcy Fernandes is superintendent of the Athol Royalston Regional School District in Athol and is based in Northampton. Her 25-year career has included stints as a teacher and principal, with a focus on developing the English Language Learners program. She holds a master’s degree in instructional leadership.
Nan Skiff Murphy is the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning at Marblehead Public Schools. A resident of Burlington, she holds a master’s degree in school leadership and has worked as principal and director of accountability and school improvement at Lowell and as a teacher in Wilmington. Murphy is also currently a finalist for superintendent at Marlborough.
Brenda Theriault-Regan is currently Deputy Superintendent and Acting Superintendent of Tewksbury Public Schools and resides in Tewksbury. She has worked in Tewksbury for over 20 years as a teacher and principal and holds a Masters in Education. She also works in the Department of Primary and Secondary Education
The next step for the school committee is to conduct site visits and final interviews after the April break. The committee will visit the candidates’ districts and the candidates will travel to Tewksbury to meet with administrators, teachers, students and staff. Presser explained that committees typically conduct site visits and final interviews on the same day.
Site visits take up most of the school day, as committee members will meet with different groups of people to observe how superintendents operate in their current districts and gain a better understanding of their leadership styles.
Presser asked the committee to consider dates to schedule interviews, navigate returning to school after the break, as well as town meetings and theater performances at the Wynn and TMHS. Presser also asked that the committee consider the types of groups he would like to meet in other districts, noting that discussions usually take place with parents, teachers, central office staff, city officials and the superintendent of the candidate if they are not currently in the lead role.
Members expressed interest in including union leaders and special education staff in the interview groups and would like to meet with the students.
Member Rich Russo expressed his preference for half day site visits rather than full day. Member Nick Parsons asked for his justification and Russo said the day would be too long to spend in another district, then followed by a lengthy interview at night.
Presser asked the committee to consider what interview questions they would like to ask candidates, noting that she and the chair would work to develop a core set of questions for the four interviewees, with the ability for members to ask additional questions specifically related to the candidate’s experience. . Presser said interviews typically last between 75 and 90 minutes, but all candidates should be interviewed for an equal amount of time.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 11, 2022. The meeting can be viewed on Comcast Channel 22 and Verizon Channel 34.