For new year, new faces rise to top posts
As they usher in the new school year, area districts are also undergoing change in their top leadership posts.
Seven new school superintendents took the helm this summer in local school districts, with interim chiefs taking over in several others.
The ranks of new superintendents include Mary M. Bourque in Chelsea, David DeRuosi in Malden, Jean Franco in Lowell, Gregory Maass in Marblehead, John J. Macero in Winthrop, Michele Robinson in Amesbury, and Stephen Russell in Salem.
Interim appointees this summer include William L. Ryan in Billerica, former Salem superintendent Herbert Levine in Peabody, and Peter Gray in the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District.
The naming of new permanent chiefs follows others earlier this year, including Richard Safier in Gloucester in May and Judith Scannell in Methuen in February, as the significant flux in school leadership that has been experienced statewide in recent years continues to be felt in this region.
With all the budgetary and other challenges facing school leaders today, the new superintendents in this area say they are thrilled with the chance to take on the task.
“I’m very excited about the opportunities,’’ said Russell, who took over as Salem’s superintendent last Monday. The former Dartmouth school superintendent succeeded William Cameron, who resigned the Salem post to take another job.
“The more I’ve learned about the city, the more enthusiastic I’m becoming,’’ Russell said. “This is a place where a lot of new and exciting initiatives are underway.’’
He said those range from the start of a new Horace Mann charter school this fall to the conversion of the Carlton Elementary School to an “innovation school,’’ as well as planned building projects at two other schools.
“Despite all the challenges school districts throughout the Commonwealth are facing, we are continuing to move forward at a pretty strong pace,’’ he said.
DeRuosi said he is enjoying his new role as Malden’s superintendent, which began July 1 after Sidney Smith retired. DeRuosi came to Malden after 11 years as an administrator in the Revere school district, including a year as assistant superintendent and seven years as high school principal.
“It’s a great city,’’ he said of Malden. “I’m very accustomed to urban districts. It’s where I want to be, where I want to do this work. I have a great team of administrators; the teachers are working hard. I’m feeling good right now.’’
DeRuosi said one item on his agenda is to ensure the continuation of state-funded extended learning time programs at two Malden schools.
Maass, until recently school superintendent in Green Bay, Wis., began as Marblehead’s superintendent July 1, taking over for interim superintendent Brian Salser.
“I’m enjoying it,’’ he said. “I’ve been making a difference in leadership for a lot of years in the Midwest. I love leadership, and I wanted to do it in a place where I would lead and learn. And I’m learning a lot about Massachusetts and a lot about Marblehead. I love Marblehead. I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve met here.’’
An initial focus has been hiring, said Maass, who has made two recent administrative appointments and is in the midst of making two others.
Robinson assumed her new job as Amesbury’s superintendent July 1 when David Jack retired from the post. She came to the city after two decades as a Las Vegas educator, most recently superintendent of Odyssey Charter Schools.
“I couldn’t be any happier. It’s a great community with wonderful people that really care about kids,’’ she said of Amesbury. “I just bought a house in Amesbury and I’m really excited to be a member of the town community as well as the school community.’’
In her meetings with school staff, she said, “We’ve developed a focus on quality instruction.’’ She hopes to pursue that priority by building on initiatives such as one that seeks to infuse literacy across the curriculum and across grade levels.
Three of the new school chiefs need little introduction to their districts.
Bourque, who took over as Chelsea’s superintendent on July 1 when Thomas Kingston retired, is a longtime administrator and former teacher in the city’s schools, most recently deputy superintendent since 2008.
“The Chelsea school district is near and dear to my heart,’’ she said. “It’s where my passion is - urban education and the wonderful things that Chelsea does in education that I’ve helped contribute to. So moving into this position to serve our students, our families, our staff, is just my dream job.’’
One of her goals, she said, is to deepen collaboration among teachers, administrators, and other staff to help improve student achievement.
Franco assumed Lowell’s top school job on July 1, succeeding Chris A. Scott, who resigned. Franco had worked for the district for 15 years, the last five as deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
“I’m enjoying it very much,’’ said Franco, adding she is fortunate to bring a knowledge of the district and its staff to the position.
Franco said she is attempting to meet with the different segments of the community in her new capacity as superintendent, with one of her goals to strengthen partnerships with the business community.
Macero, who took over as Winthrop’s school superintendent July 1 from interim chief Joseph Lisi, is a former Winthrop School Committee member. Until recently he was principal of the A.C. Whelan Elementary School in Revere.
“It’s been going very smoothly. I’m very excited to start the year,’’ Macero said.
He said he is particularly pleased that since coming aboard, he has been able to fill three key posts - two new curriculum directors and an assistant superintendent - that he said will benefit the district.