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Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Search = Shit Sandwich

From the Search Committee for the
Selection of the Next Superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools

The Search Committee for the Selection of the Next Superintendent of Schools, appointed by Mayor Petty, received four applications for the positon of Superintendent of Schools.

Based on our review and evaluation of the applications, and of the supporting materials submitted, we are pleased to advance all of the applicants for further review and consideration by the School Committee.

The candidates all bring to the selection process superlative records of achievement. However, they vary dramatically, one from the other, in areas of expertise, focus, training, experience, and concentration. They provide, collectively, a superb opportunity for the Worcester Public Schools to select, from them, the candidate with the optimal mix of training, talent, and vision which will assist the WPS in addressing the challenges and opportunities which it can reasonably anticipate in the years ahead.
The candidates are as follows:

Karrie J. Allen, Ed.D.

Dr. Allen, the Principal of Norrback Avenue School, brings to the selection process “15 years’ experience transforming school cultures, implementing effective initiatives and systematically building structures vital to student achievement”, as she describes well in her letter of application. During her decade as Principal within the WPS – at Norrback and at May Street School – and in her years of experience as a teacher of children with moderate needs, she has won the respect and allegiance of staff members, students, parents and the community for her focus on student achievement, collaboration, and parent/community involvement. Her former supervisor highlights her “breadth of knowledge, candor, confidence, sense of humor and rapport”, which, combined with her record of achievement in elementary education, would serve her well as Superintendent. As a letter of reference regarding her noted, she “has a deep rooted passion for facilitating learning and positive growth; she would be a positive asset to the Worcester Community as the Superintendent.”

Maureen F. Binienda.

Mrs. Binienda has devoted her entire professional life to the students of the Worcester Public Schools, first as a teacher of moderate special needs students, then as a special education curriculum specialist, then, for the past two decades, as Assistant Principal and Principal of South High Community School. Her dedication to community service – for her students as well as for herself – has earned her an extraordinary array of awards and commendations from civic and educational organizations. At South High Community School, where she has worked since 1978, she is, as summarized so well by the author of one of her letters of recommendation, “everywhere at once, supporting, nurturing, and coaching the entire community, especially her students.”  Her focus has been equally on setting ambitious standards of academic achievement for her students, epitomized by her Advanced Placement initiatives.

Kerry E. Mulcahy. Ed.D.

Dr. Mulcahy has a rich educational pedigree which is tailor-made for leadership in Worcester. She earned her doctorate from the Leadership in Urban Schools program at the University of Massachusetts Boston, having written her thesis on “An Examination of School Committee Municipal Representation in the City of Worcester.” She is described today by an associate professor who was her thesis advisor as “the finest student of education politics that I have met in my career in higher education.” In Worcester, where she has taught English for more than a decade, currently at Doherty Memorial High School, she is noted for the success of her students on MCAS, for her innovative role with the Engineering Small Learning Community, for her energetic dedication to her school, and for her rapport with her students. As her colleague has emphasized, “[i]n all aspects of her life she has demonstrated the leadership, modesty, passion, determination and integrity that make her an excellent choice for this position.”

Marco C. Rodrigues, Ed.D.

Dr. Rodrigues has truly experienced all instructional levels of public education, beginning as an instructional assistant at Woodward Day School in 1991, ultimately rising to the position of Executive Director a decade later. He served as Executive Director of the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative for three years. Since 2010 he has been an instructional leader within the Central Administration, culminating in his current position as Interim Superintendent. In each of these positions, he has demonstrated a particular sensitivity to the most challenged students of the WPS, while, as Chief Academic Officer and as Interim Superintendent, he has maintained a clear, thoroughly-informed focus on student achievement and on data-informed instruction methodology. As his predecessor as Chief Academic Officer has noted, he “promotes success for all students by nurturing and sustaining a school culture of reflective practice, high expectations, and continuous learning for staff.” As Interim Superintendent, he has shown an ability to formulate, and to consider, novel approaches to school issues, addressing them in a practical, cost-effective manner.

The Committee is delighted that these four talented and dedicated educational leaders have chosen to apply for the position of Superintendent, and we anticipate a lively dialogue on issues of Worcester public education, informed well by their perspectives and insights, as the selection process continues.

The Committee highlights the following as the next stages on this process:

Friday, March 4 – the resumes of the candidates, their letters of application, their reference letters, the application forms, the responses to essay questions, and other pertinent information will be posted on the WPS website.

Monday, March 7 – the School Committee will interview the candidates, in the City Council Chamber, in the following order, as determined by random drawing:

5 PM – Dr. Rodrigues
6 PM – Dr. Mulcahy
7 PM – Mrs. Binienda
8 PM – Dr. Allen
The interviews will each begin with a three-minute introductory statement by the candidate, followed by presentation of twelve questions, in order, each with three minutes as a general time guideline for responses. A closing statement of two to four minutes by the candidate will conclude the interview, which is designed to take no more than one hour. The questions to be asked of the candidates will be released to the candidates, and to the public, to allow the candidates to formulate well-considered and thoughtful responses. We will invite candidates to bring with them, and to share with us, any pertinent documents which support, supplement or elucidate the answers they provide to the questions they are asked as well.
Wednesday, March 9 – the Committee will hold a “meet and greet” reception for the candidates from 5 to 7 PM, at the Cafeteria of Doherty Memorial High School. This reception will allow the members of the community to interact with the candidates in an informal setting, to raise questions of interest to them, and to form their own impressions of the candidates through their conversations.
Monday, March 14 – The Committee will convene at a Special Meeting, at 6:15 PM, in the City Council Chamber, to deliberate on selection of the next Superintendent. The selection of the Superintendent will require a majority vote of the members of the Committee present and voting.
We strongly encourage all interested members of our community, and of the Worcester Public Schools, to participate in this process with us, by attending the interviews, by joining us for the “meet and greet”, and by coming to City Hall for the March 14 meeting. We urge all Worcester residents, and community and educational leaders, to share with us their thoughts as to the candidates, and as to the particular skills and priorities the WPS most needs in its next Superintendent. As noted above, we are most pleased with the caliber and quality of these fine members of our staff, and with the expertise, knowledge, skill, training, talent and energy which they will clearly bring to this position. We are most anxious that our community join us as we work, together, to select the qualities, and the leader, which will prepare us best to address the many varied challenges, and fine opportunities, which await the WPS in the years to come.
The Search Committee for the
Selection of the Next Superintendent of Schools
Brian A. O’Connell, Chair
Jack Foley
John Monfredo

Interview Questions

1.        We read frequently that a leader of an organization must have a vision.  What is your vision for a mid-sized urban school system?  What have you done to achieve that vision in your present situation?  How would you go about achieving that vision in a new setting?

2.        What do you see as the opportunities and challenges facing the Worcester Public Schools at present and in your experience, how has the Worcester Public Schools met the opportunities and challenges facing it during your tenure with the district?

3.      What will you do to solidify a strong relationship and develop a shared strategic direction between the Worcester School Committee and the Superintendent?

4.      Explain how you would build a strong relationship within the community, with our community leaders, higher education officials, legislators, social agencies and other governmental leaders.

5.      What role should the community and parents play in the schools and provide examples of what you might do in your first six months as Superintendent to enhance the role of community and parents in this respect?

6.        How would you create consensus regarding the priorities of the district and develop budget recommendations that reflect those priorities?

7.      Nationwide, we hear about the achievement gap, especially in the urban districts and with English language learning students.  What can we do to move all of our students to the next level in their educational career?

8.       What plans do you have to inform the public of the many positive accomplishments within our district and how will you keep the public informed regarding district initiatives, needs and priorities?

9.      How would you create a welcoming community where parents/families are partners in the academic success of their children and how would you create a staff which reflects and embodies this diversity?

10.    As Superintendent, you will have an opportunity to appoint a number of principals and central office administrators.  What criteria, philosophy and guidelines would you apply when making these decisions?

11.    What is your leadership and management style and what would be your plan to effectively communicate with educators in our schools?

12.    In recent years, the Worcester Public Schools has addressed opportunities and challenges in such areas as:

1.    expanding interest in vocational education on the part of students
2.    special education
3.    arts and music education
4.    gifted student education
5.    technology
6.    student and staff safety and security

Please share with us your thoughts as to topics and considerations we should address in each of these areas.