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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Nashua assistant superintendent candidates voice passion for curriculum, instruction

NASHUA – While their experience and education may vary, the three candidates for the School District’s assistant superintendent position agreed on one thing: their passion for curriculum and instruction.

The Board of Education conducted public interviews with the three finalists Wednesday night, questioning them about the diversity of the district and the challenges it can present, the transition to the Common Core State Standards and how they would lead the district in curriculum development. ...

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NASHUA – While their experience and education may vary, the three candidates for the School District’s assistant superintendent position agreed on one thing: their passion for curriculum and instruction.

The Board of Education conducted public interviews with the three finalists Wednesday night, questioning them about the diversity of the district and the challenges it can present, the transition to the Common Core State Standards and how they would lead the district in curriculum development.

The candidates – Ledge Street Principal Janet Valeri, Main Dunstable Assistant Principal Karen Crebase and Daniel LeGallo, principal of Lamprey River Elementary School in Raymond – work in elementary schools. They were selected from a field of 56 applicants.

The assistant superintendent position focuses on leading curriculum and instructional efforts in the city schools, a position held by Dr. Althea Sheaff since 2010. The board approved Sheaff’s retirement in January.

All three candidates said they feel comfortable dealing with the diversity in the school system, where more than 40 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and that effective leadership is needed to help all students succeed.

“I believe first and foremost we need to believe in our children,” Valeri said. “Too often, we lower the bar. We need to instill the value of education and make education within their grasp.”

Valeri has served as a teacher and principal in the School District for years.

Board members asked the finalists what one thing should be seen in all city classrooms.

For Crebase, effective teaching is key.

And she had plenty of ideas regarding what effective teaching looks like: a teacher who is differentiating instruction and
giving extra attention to struggling students, who covers the walls with student work and who teaches reading across all grade levels.

“It’s a classroom where a lot is going on,” she said, laughing. “Can you imagine the job of a teacher?”

Crebase has worked in the city for years, serving as a principal and assistant principal in various elementary schools.

Board members also questioned candidates about how they would deal with the high number of students from Nashua and other communities who require remedial math education upon entering college or a career field.

LeGallo, a former engineer and math teacher, said part of the challenge is the result of a success of the state’s schools: that more and more students are interested in going on for higher education, not just the best and brightest.

If he were selected as the new assistant superintendent, LeGallo said he
would first review the math instruction in place at the high schools and younger grades to determine whether there was something not being met by current courses.

New courses could be created to address such holes, he said.

“Ten feet is still 10 feet; that hasn’t changed,” he said. “A lot of the operations we use are the same, but the depth of knowledge we’re seeking has morphed. So the methodology we use to interact with kids has got to change. … We need to find a way to make sure that everybody can hit that target.”

The board held a nonpublic session after the interviews to discuss the hiring process. That process will continue by completing any reference checks and also may include site visits to the candidates’ current schools.

Superintendent Mark Conrad will make a recommendation for the position and bring that back to the board for a final vote in the coming weeks.

Danielle Curtis can be reached at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Curtis on Twitter (@Telegraph_DC).