Stay up to date on all the latest news from Boston.com
Following a three-month search process, two finalists for superintendent of Boston Public Schools, each with extensive administrative experience in the district, were unveiled by the School Committee on Tuesday, ahead of public interviews of each candidate slated for later this week.
Both Mary Skipper, the current superintendent of Somerville Public Schools, and Tommy Welch, Region 1 schools superintendent for BPS, were recommended by a nine-member Search Committee, the School Committee announced in a press release.
“Boston’s future is tied in every way to the success of our public schools and the health and well-being of our young people,” Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement. “I’m excited to be at this final stage in our search process and so grateful to the Search Committee for leading a robust process that yielded a strong, diverse pool of candidates with a wide range of lived and professional experiences.”
Wu and School Committee Chair Jeri Robinson also, on Tuesday, asked the School Committee to officially designate Drew Echelson, the district’s deputy superintendent of academics, as acting superintendent to cover duties during the “short window” between when current Superintendent Brenda Cassellius departs her position on June 30 and the next superintendent’s first day on the job, officials said.
Echelson was not a candidate for superintendent.
Skipper, a former network superintendent at BPS, has served as chief of Somerville schools for seven years, where she “quickly made her mark in Somerville as an innovative and visionary thinker, a passionate advocate for all youth, and a strategic systems builder whose approach includes leveraging community resources to support students,” the School Committee release boasts.
“Before going to Somerville, Superintendent Skipper was Network Superintendent of High Schools for BPS, where she oversaw 34 high schools serving approximately 19,500 students,” officials said. “During her time as Network Superintendent, Boston High Schools achieved the lowest drop-out and the highest graduation rates in BPS history.”
In 2002, Skipper helped launch TechBoston Academy as its founding headmaster.
Skipper lives in Dorchester with her husband and three children. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Latin from Tufts University; a master’s degree in Education Policy from Harvard University; and a master’s degree in Education Leadership from Columbia Teachers College.
Welch, in his current position, works with 15 schools — with over 7,000 students — in Charleston, East Boston, and the North End.
“Dr. Welch’s service in urban education spans over two decades,” officials said. “His work prioritizes the improvement of the academic outcomes of students and connects leaders and resources within the network to provide a coherent instructional vision for all schools.”
Before starting in Boston schools in 2015, Welch was the founding principal of a middle school and later a high school in Los Angeles’s South Central neighborhood.
“His classroom teaching experience focused on English learners and special education inclusion in the lower elementary grades, as well as English at the high school level,” officials said.
Welch lives in East Boston with his wife and two children, who are BPS students. He is a graduate of Occidental College and the University of California, Los Angeles, and earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Boston College in 2020.
Dr. Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College and a co-chair of the superintendent Search Committee, called the two candidates “exceptional, strong leaders committed to equity and academic excellence.”
Skipper and Welch were selected from 34 total candidates after a series of public listening sessions and community meetings as well as private interviews with the Search Committee.
The Search Committee held its final deliberations last week and voted to advance a group of finalists, although two candidates have since withdrawn ahead of the public interviews, according to district officials.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to the Superintendent Search Committee for its tremendous work in assessing candidates through a collaborative process, which included community voices from day one,” Robinson said in a statement. “The district’s next leader must be ready to take on the challenges facing the district and share in our commitment to equity and inclusion, increasing academic achievement, and engaging deeply with all community members.”
Both Skipper and Welch will participate in public interviews on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
“These panel interviews will be conducted remotely via Zoom, with live interpretation in nine languages, including ASL, and members of the public are invited to join,” officials said. “Panel questions will remain the same both days, and will be drawn from both the panelists and the previous public responses to the Superintendent Search Survey. Questions may also be chosen live from the Q&A function in Zoom.”
Panel schedules for both days include:
Each day will conclude with a public interview before the School Committee from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The committee will meet on June 29 at 5 p.m. to vote on which candidate to offer the position to and to approve Echelson as acting superintendent, officials said.
Stay up to date on all the latest news from Boston.com
Stay up to date with everything Boston. Receive the latest news and breaking updates, straight from our newsroom to your inbox.