Candidate Aaron Dean believes his knowledge of Adams-Cheshire and administrative experience makes him a good fit.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Adams Cheshire Regional School Committee plans to vote on a new superintendent at Monday's meeting.
The full committee on Thursday interviewed superintendent candidates Aaron Dean, principal of Pittsfield's Crosby Elementary School, and Beth Choquette, principal of Northampton's Bridge Street School. Both have previously worked for Adams-Cheshire. A third candidate withdrew his name.
"We had two excellent candidates tonight and this was a very informative session," School Committee member Michael Mucci said.
After the sudden departure of former Superintendent John Vosburgh at the end of July after a year on the job, the committee decided to plunge right into another superintendent search.
Dean was first to be interviewed and cited his experience in the district as a teacher and union president and in Pittsfield as an administrator. He also said his time on the McCann School Committee has left him with a wealth of information.
"I have really tried to build a broad set of experiences so coming to a position like this I can hit the ground running," Dean said. "I think it suits me well to make the move at this point."
He said he is already familiar with many of the strategies the district is using in its turnaround plan and would like to improve upon them with new data-driven systems he has implemented in Pittsfield. He said he would like to continue working with the leadership teams to help pinpoint goals and provide teachers with clear feedback to help them improve.
With his 10-plus years in the district, Dean said he really knows the school system and the communities. He said he still has connections in the district and would not have a hard time getting up to speed.
"I feel like over the years I was here, people saw me as a true professional and I think I built a lot of respect," he said. "I think I would be coming in with a lot of trust ... and I want to do what is best for our community."
He said transparency is important to him and believes everyone in the district should have a voice. He said he would implement structures to make sure there are open avenues of communication.
Dean said he has faced many of the same issues Adams-Cheshire currently faces in Pittsfield, such as dwindling resources and a student body with growing needs. He said he believes in using data to inform decisions and setting clear goals for the district.
Dean, who lives in Adams and is a graduate of Hoosac Valley High School, said he wants to come home and be engaged in his community. He said he hopes to bring stability to the district.
"I want to come home ... and I hate seeing the school system that I went through struggle," he said. "It is not fair to the community and it is not fair to the kids ... I will work tirelessly to make sure that we are successful."
Beth Choquette cites her success in turning around a Northampton school as something that would benefit Adams-Cheshire.
Choquette said she thought one of her strengths as an administrator was her passion for her students.
"I am very committed to the children that I serve every day ... the students that I serve are near and dear to my heart and I lead with that kind of love and passion," she said. "I try to see through them and how they are going to achieve in life."
Choquette said when she took the job in Northampton, Bridge Street School was a level three. She said her first move was to raise morale and rebuild the school community.
"I took the first year there to really make that the focus and it really changes a lot," she said. "It improved the academic performances of our kids ... as a building leader if I don't have the trust of the people in the district ... we are never going to get the academic achievement."
She said she would carry this strategy to Adams-Cheshire school district as well as extend it to both communities. She said when she was the principal in Stamford, Vt., she worked with six different communities and understands that communities have different needs and expectations for education.
Choquette said, like in many school districts, Adams-Cheshire has a high special-needs population and that she would like to reduce the population by developing an intervention support system that responds before children begin lagging behind.
She added that she would like to implement "out of the box" programming, add vocational programming, and work with local colleges to make the district more attractive to students. She said she would also like to promote the school better. With a child in the district, she said she knows there are a lot of great things going on in Adams-Cheshire
Choquette said she, too, would bring stability to a district that's been plagued with seemingly constant superintendent turnover.
"I am committed if you look at my track record, I am not a person who jumps around from job to job every year or two," she said. "I really like to see things through and with the high turnover of leadership these two towns deserve somebody who is willing to stay to see them through the hard things."
The School Committee has a meeting scheduled Monday during which Chairman Adam Emerson said the committee will make a decision.