Applications coming in for MHS principal, assistant superintendent

The searches for a new Marblehead High School principal and assistant superintendent for teaching and learning shift into high gear this week. Superintendent John Buckey has already received 26 applications for the assistant superintendent job and eight for the principal position. 

Current principal Dan Bauer and assistant superintendent Nan Murphy are both leaving at the end of the school year to become superintendents in other districts.

For both positions, Buckey said he is “looking for someone to build upon the good work of those who have preceded them. Both Dan and Nan have big shoes to fill. Education is about relationships. I want someone who will prioritize getting to know our students and staff first.” 

Job descriptions have been posted for both the assistant superintendent and principal jobs, and Buckey has released timelines for the two searches.

Principal search

The search committee to pick the next MHS principal starts meeting Feb. 28.

The principal search committee was expected to meet for the first time on Feb. 28. The committee includes the following people: Buckey; Murphy; administrators MHS Vice Principal Lindsay Donaldson and Veterans Middle School Principal Matt Fox; staff Christine Chaykowski, Michael Giardi, Gina Hart and Susan Shatford; parents Kerry-Frances Bourne, Melissa Kaplowitch, Cindy Schieffer and John White; students Audrey Bathurst, Jeremy Sorkin, David Alpert and Lucy Sabin; Jennifer Jackson with SEPAC and Nikkia Bell with METCO; and School Committee member Tom Mathers.

“We had quadruple the number of parents interested in being on the search [committee] than we unfortunately have spots for,” Buckey told the School Committee. “And we had triple the number of students.” 

Buckey said the principal search committee has a diversity of parents and students, “providing a voice to all stakeholders — academics, athletics, the arts and co-curriculars.

“We tried to get one student from each grade level and looked at their involvement in clubs,” he added. 

The group is expected to start interviewing candidates on March 7.

“We will have them visit the district, and that will provide our community an opportunity to have forums with the finalists,” Buckey said. “They will have a faculty meeting and a student panel.” 

Buckey hopes to have a new MHS principal named by April 10.

Mathers ended up on the principal search committee after School Committee Chair Sarah Fox appointed herself, but then backpedaled when Mathers said he felt the School Committee should discuss the appointment and take a vote. 

“I just think from a governance perspective, this committee, we need to function from a perspective of deliberation,” he said. “I have no interest in having previously raised my hand, but I will do what the will of the committee is.” 

Fox said she was merely going off precedent. 

“Our process in the past has been to the discretion of the chair,” she said. “But we can absolutely have that discussion.” 

Sarah Gold said she thought a School Committee member who does not have “a kid queued up” to attend the high school would serve the principal search well.

Fox, who has more than one child enrolled in the district, countered that she does not have any children in the high school.

“I certainly don’t want to be on it,” Gold said. “I have a very vested interest in [the next principal] as a parent. I don’t think it would be appropriate.”

Mathers doesn’t have children in Marblehead Public Schools, and Gold said his service on the search committee would be a good decision “optics wise.” 

Assistant superintendent search

The 13-member search committee for the new assistant superintendent includes the following people: Buckey; Assistant Supt. for Finance & Operations Michelle Cresta; administrators Paul Donnelly and Hope Doran; faculty/staff members Marissa Hunt-Pomeroy and Mary LeBlanc, parents Reece Dahlberg and Emily Moore; Brian Birke with SEPAC; Jacqui Holmes with METCO; community members Paul Baker and Mark Pelletier; and a yet-to-be-named School Committee member.

The committee will begin meeting March 6 and interviewing candidates on March 20. Buckey hopes to have the new assistant superintendent named by April 17.

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Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.

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