New interim supt. locked up for two years | Winchester
WINCHESTER – The Winchester Public Schools Screening Committee for Finding a New Interim Superintendent has narrowed the selection to two. After interviews with Zoom, the school committee said they had two highly qualified candidates. However, one candidate stood out for his experience and leadership skills.
Therefore, the committee unanimously voted to offer Supt. from Braintree Public Schools Dr. Frank Hackett took over the position. A few days later, the two sides agreed on a two-year contract. From July 1st he will replace the outgoing Supt. Dr. Judy Evans.
Brian Vernaglia, chair of the school committee, said the committee is looking for “an experienced leader and exceptional contributor. . . A principled and fair professional with educational leadership including: maintaining a vision for excellence in a time of change, promoting authentic learning for all students in a changing population, supporting collaborative, high performing and innovative academic and administrative teams, and community engagement Stakeholders. “
Some of the features of the meantime supt. These include: a passion for lifelong learning and excellent teaching and learning skills for all, authentic listening and persuasive communication skills, strong finance, budgeting and strategic planning skills, and previous experience with the Massachusetts School Building Authority on core replacement and / or or major renovation projects.
The committee said Hackett checked all the boxes.
Vernaglia outlined the schools’ mission statement as “providing excellent education for all students in a nurturing yet challenging environment that promotes academic performance, healthy social and emotional development, enthusiasm for education and a lifelong love of learning”.
Before voting, the committee thanked the screening team, led by Laurie Kirby. They all seemed to agree that the process went smoothly and that both candidates shone.
Ultimately, they all nominated Hackett as the preferred choice. Zeina Marchant, member of the school committee, cited his “deep experience with the MSBA process and construction”. She added how he “has been in a district like ours”.
She also enjoyed his sense of humor and his ability to calm people down.
“He got the best out of all of us,” Marchant noted.
According to Marchant, being a former high school and middle school teacher as well as a headmaster also helped him. She also called him a good listener who is open to feedback.
“He was honest about his past mistakes,” recalled Marchant as a positive trait.
Hackett spoke about COVID from both a scientific and a human perspective, which he needs to balance as Winchester tries to get students back to school on a full-time basis. He mentioned socio-emotional problems, particularly those related to bringing the students back.
Speaking of budgeting, Marchant said he talked about it as a creative solution as it relates to the needs of staff and students.
For school committee member Chris Nixon, he described both candidates as impressive and noted that the other candidate had brought a lot to the table. He said both men are open about the lessons they have learned.
While Hackett didn’t give a detailed approach to budgeting, Nixon said his focus was on organizational change – that is, it’s not just about money, but rather whether or not it can be done differently or better.
Nixon also pointed out, as Hackett said, he loves working with enrollment numbers and comes from a school system that, like Winchester, continues to grow. He also understands the Student Opportunity Act.
“He has that experience as a seated superintendent,” noted Nixon, adding that he also has a unique perspective of working outside of the state while serving as a superintendent in Maine. “Both did the job, and good, but Hackett rose to the top.”
School committee member Michelle Bergstrom agreed with many of Nixon’s points, adding that Hackett believes budgets are both an auditory phenomenon and a mathematical phenomenon.
“He knows you can’t assume that you will always have the answer to every challenge,” she said.
Bergstrom also highlighted his experience working with the MSBA and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“Bring people into the process at an early stage and use their individual strengths to your advantage,” recalls Bergstrom of Hackett during the interview.
Having already managed a school district through COVID-19, focusing on high school students, and just gaining a few extra experiences, Bergstrom gave enough confidence in Hackett to endorse him as a preferred candidate for Winchester.
Vice-Chair Karen Bolognese pointed to the leadership profile as the reason for choosing Hackett because he checked those boxes and could help “guide us through up and down times.”
Like her fellow committee members, she called Hackett a seasoned leader and said he worked with a small team in Maine, similar to the small team in Winchester.
“I appreciated his emphasis on co-workers, community and their contributions,” noted Bolognese.
She also praised his experience with construction projects, city government, multi-year planning and programming needs. Like Marchant, the vice-chairman appreciated his ease and sense of humor.
“With all these challenges you have to be ready and nimble, and I support Hackett for these reasons,” admitted Bolognese.
For the presidency, Vernaglia, like his vice-chairman, pointed out the leadership profile, admitting that both candidates were “excellent in most categories” and both candidates “ticked most of the boxes”. He said they both have a passion for learning and great communication skills.
“This position is for an interim period (superintendent) and (the selected person) has to fly fast,” he reminded his colleagues on the committee.
Vernaglia pointed out that Hackett’s skills as superintendent in Massachusetts were slightly stronger than those of his competitor. He also believed that Hackett could lead the school department through the upcoming lynch project once it reached the feasibility stage.
With that, Marchant, Nixon, Bergstrom and Bolognese nominated Hackett as their first choice and it was then unanimously approved.