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.