The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 24, 2006


Patrice Hurley, candidate for Middle School Principal

Patrice Hurley (Photo by Mollie McPhee Ho)
Patrice Hurley, candidate for Middle School Principal, is currently Assistant Principal at the Ephraim Curtis Middle School in Sudbury. She pointed to her experience as a parent, teacher, and administrator and noted policies she has developed to deal with social issues, discipline, and educational differences.

She has been in education 25 years, and moved into administration because she "had some ideas on how things should work." She holds a master's in educational administration from Lesley University, a degree in business and public administration from Harvard University, and a bachelor's in secondary education and psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has taught on the high school and every grade level.

Active person, ready for challenge

"I'm a pretty active person, and education is a passion for me," said Hurley. She pointed to important experiences that enhanced her development as an educator, including a stint as house parent for an adolescent half-way house, and several years as an at-home mom. While raising kids she was president of the elementary and middle school Parent Teacher Organizations, a member of the school committee, and a member of the League of Women Voters.

Asked why she should be hired, Hurley pointed to her current position as a grade-level administrator of 360 children, supervising 35 staff members, "I feel absolutely ready for this challenge." She suggested Carlisle needs a principal who will "work hard" and be "loyal to the school for a number of years." She said parents want an "open door policy" and she will investigate whether the school can be opened Saturday mornings for parents to drop in on her. She believes parents have a right to expect an investment from her in their children, "I know what it is to be a parent."

Maintaining positive social environment

Although Hurley did not mention familiarity with the "Open Circle" curriculum in place at the Carlisle School, she had given much thought to maintaining a positive social environment. Asked about bullying and exclusion, she noted the importance of adults modeling welcoming behavior. "Each morning I greet the students" in the hallways to show "somebody's happy they are there." She has developed a curriculum with a guidance counselor on what to do if bullied or a bystander to bullying. It also teaches students their rights.

Regarding educational differences, Hurley said she begins the year visiting each class to talk about different learning styles "I tell them everyone here is a special needs child. We're all special and have needs." Some students learn best hands-on, others through listening, others through talking, and "we will provide structure for all of you. It is our obligation to meet the needs of each." She meets individually with students on IEPs to encourage them, and includes special needs students in meetings about their progress.

Discipline about learning

"Children act impulsively, and middle school children especially will make mistakes," said Hurley. She has developed a form for a misbehaving student to fill out before meeting with her. The form asks what happened and why, what core values of the school were violated, what the student's goal was in misbehaving, whether that goal was achieved, and what the student should to do next time. Once the form is complete she meets with the student. "It's not about punishment, it's about learning from the experience." A plan is agreed to for "making it right," whether by making amends, apologizing, or engaging in community service.

In more serious situations, including truancy or injury, Hurley believes in calling parents first before reporting behavior to the police or the state Department of Social Services (DSS.) An exception would be made if a child expressed fear of his parents, in which case DSS would be involved immediately.

She sees the MCAS as providing "a good measure of if we're meeting our obligations." However she believes the tests are "very stressful for children" adding, "Our job is to tell them to take it seriously and do their best," while reassuring them "it's not a measure of all their work."

Leadership style supportive

Hurley defines herself as a leader who is "very supportive," adding, "When we hire, we invest money, time and effort. We want to give that teacher every support to be successful." She is often in the classroom, and if there is an issue, she instigates a "collegial discussion about how to handle a situation differently." She recognizes the need to make judgments as to "who stays and who goes," and at the three year mark reviews "is it a good fit?"

Very attracted to Carlisle

Hurley offered, "I am very attracted to your school. I get a good feeling about the community commitment." She noted the fundraising by parent organizations, and pointed to the fifty Carlisle parents who attended her session, noting she had had interviews in larger communities with "much less parent interest."

"I like the elementary to middle school connection, and the ability to work closely together providing support for the child from K to 8." In summary, Hurley said of Carlisle, "All I've heard is very positive. You have a great deal to offer."

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito