Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Huizenga Reshapes Central Office

Ms. Huizenga
New Southbridge schools management team bears state receiver's imprint

By Brian Lee

A leadership team with restructured roles has been named for the school district whose woeful retention of administrators - 35 transitions involving 43 people in nine central office jobs in recent years - led to the district being taken over by the state in January.

Despite the district of approximately 2,200 students being 45 percent Hispanic, it did not even have a director of English Language Learners earlier this year.

But it does now, and then some.

Jessica L. Huizenga, the state-appointed receiver for the Level 5 chronically underperforming schools, said William Marinell was appointed chief of learning & innovation, formerly known as assistant superintendent. 

Mr. Marinell, who starts June 27, obtained a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College, Mrs. Huizenga said in a statement.

His most recent position was director of analytics for the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University in Cambridge where he oversaw collaborations with superintendents and state commissioners of education to use data and analysis to strengthen students’ progress toward high school graduation and post-secondary enrollment.

Mr. Marinell, who also holds masters and doctorate degrees from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, will lead the Southbridge School District Teaching and Learning Team, focusing on the overall improvement of learning outcomes.

Meanwhile, Leominster public schools’ business administrator Daniel Deedy was named director of finance, human resources & operations, effective July 1.

Mr. Deedy, who also worked in Auburn, has served in school business administration for more than 10 years, and is on the executive board for Massachusetts Association for School Business Officials.

Kelly Cooney was selected as the director of English Language Learners Services, a newly created position in the Southbridge School District.

She begins July 1. Ms. Cooney presently serves as the director of the English Language Learner Program in Fall River public schools, and has been an educator for more than 15 years.

Jonathan Parent, a graduate of Southbridge High School, was appointed director of information systems and technology, another new position, and he began working in Southbridge May 2.
Mrs. Huizenga said Mr. Parent has been involved in every level of technology for the past 20 years, including the previous four years as network administrator for Hopkinton Public Schools, where he played a major role in a 1-to-1 laptop implementation project at the middle and high schools.

Nicole Murphy, director of social and emotional learning, joined the district May 9. She previously worked as the social emotional program manager and district psychotherapist for the Georgetown public schools and has been a practicing psychotherapist for 20 in private practice, outpatient mental health, inpatient psychiatric, nonprofit and public school settings.

Holdover Colleen Culligan will remain as director of pupil personnel for the district. She has served in that capacity in Southbridge since 2012.

Aiding newly appointed High School Principal Andrae Townsel, a Washington D.C. educator who will begin July 1, are assistant principals William Sienkewicz, a Fall River educator, and Patrick Danby, who’s currently employed by the Springfield public schools. Mrs. Huizenga recently appointed both assistant principals, who will begin July 1.

Scott S. Lazo, chairman of the School Committee, whose role has been reduced since the state assumed control of the district on Jan. 26, said that the committee "knew a reorganization had to happen." Mr. Lazo said Mrs. Huizenga is well-positioned to install a strong team, given her authority to act as superintendent and School Committee. Mr. Lazo said the appointees appear to be "very qualified," and he said that he is cautiously optimistic a turnaround of the district would occur in two to three years, exiting Southbridge from Level 5 status.

"This district isn’t that broke," he said.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in January for the state to take control of the district, which had been deemed underperforming in 2004.


  1. Jessica For Town ManagerJune 14, 2016 at 10:14 PM

    Too bad she's not running the whole damn town!!!

  2. Jessica is a sockpuppetJune 15, 2016 at 2:39 AM

    Why? The school budget is in a huge deficit. Do you want the town budget to be over spent too? She is not exactly personable either in her role as the state DOE's sockpuppet.

  3. Show Schools the $June 15, 2016 at 5:09 PM

    If we budgeted enough on our Schools in the first place, tbe State would not have needed to come in.

  4. To Show Schools the $,

    This is one time when we can truly say that it isn't about the money. The schools, and lets be clear here when we say that it is SMHS, it was not about the money. Prior to moving into the new building, the high school had made significant progress in restoring faith in both the local community and with the DESE.

    Bill Bishop and Dale Hanley recruited and put in place a staff that worked together to solve many of the problems of the past. But that ended when the then school committee (and we all know who they were) decided to give Ely his way and they empowered him to go after Bishop. And then exit Ely and enter Buz and his gang of Springfieldeistas.

    In under two years the dedicated staff was decimated and the remaining staff just decided it was better to keep their heads under the radar. Then their was a revolving door of administrators and teacher with many classes at the high school being taught by substitute teachers.

    This turnover created an atmosphere where the students took over the school. Discipline problems became the norm and test scores plummeted. Now, it is about the money because it will take a lot to draw the talent needed to turn the district around. And, for those who think it is going to take two to three years, it will take double that to regain the trust and confidence of the community and the state.

    1. Show Schools the $June 16, 2016 at 7:49 PM

      The State has forced the Town to spend more-this is the best evidence that enough was not spent.

      The issues brought up by Just Sayin' are no less valid.

    2. It was not lack of money that got us to this point, but absence of common sense and leadership. We were on our way back and then we were besieged by rotten blueberries... Who, only had political retribution on their minds.

      Just because it is going to take a bunch of money to try (and I say try) to fix the problem is a Post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument. Don't get me wrong, an infusion of money will help, but it will not solve the problems because they are people problems.

      Read today's article about the mass firings at SHMS. And if you read between the lines, there will be many more before the summer is done when the new plan is in place. But how is the newly crowned empress going to fire the parents who are apathetic and uninvolved? Especially those parents whose only goal in having their children attend school to ensure welfare and wic payments.

      Time will only tell if Empress Huizenga and her Praetorian Guard will be able to rebuild the once proud and mighty Soutbridge Public Schools. But before she can start building, she must clear away the wreckage of the past or things will continue to keep resurfacing to distract her from empire building. She will need to clear away the countless law suits that are already in the courts and the ones to follow after she rids herself of the vestiges of professional teaching staff.

  5. The Receiver is building an impressive team but we've seen people with impressive resumes fail before. I hope this team is successful because, if they're not, we might as well close the doors: no one will want to put their kids in this district for a generation. Good luck to the teachers and the new administration.

  6. Why do I think Just Sayin' is Bill Bishop honking his own horn?


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