Friday, March 23, 2007
Two finalists chosen for principal position at CCHS
Peter Badalament, principal of Bellingham High School, and Carla Scuzzarella, principal of Beverly High School, have been chosen as finalists for the position of principal at Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS), replacing retiring Principal Art Dulong. Two other candidates were considered: Alexi Callen, assistant principal of Needham High School, and Alan Weinstein, assistant principal of CCHS. Some may remember that Badalament served as dean of students at CCHS from 1997 to 2001 and was a finalist in 2001 when Dulong was hired as principal.
Dulong explained, in an e-mail sent last Friday to the high school community, "Last night the four finalists for the principal position at CCHS were interviewed for the second time. This was a public interview and attendees were allowed to give feedback to the search committee regarding the candidates. Following the meeting the search committee considered each candidate and ultimately selected the two whose names have been forwarded to Superintendent Brenda Finn for her consideration."
Approximately 25 people attended the interview in the library, more than half of them teachers and staff at CCHS. Dulong explained the next step in the interview process: "During the next few weeks Dr. Finn will coordinate reference checks, site visits, and have personal interviews with each candidate. She hopes to have the process completed and a new principal named by the first week of April. The new principal will officially begin work on July 1, 2007."
The search committee, which included Carlisle School Committee member Chad Koski, is made up of students, staff and community members. (See box on page 7.)
Both finalists were upbeat and seemed comfortable throughout their interviews. The search committee asked each candidate the same seven questions:
1. The state champion soccer team has been selected to participate in an Eastern Tournament. Everyone is very excited. It has been brought to your attention by the Concord Police Department that some of the players were attending a party that involved illegal activity. With the tournament approaching, how would you deal with this situation?
Badalament: He said he would investigate the school's policy, and investigate the students' involvement in the party and illegal activity. Noting that he would need to ignore the disappointment he and others would feel if the students could not play, he said, "I would have to box out the fact that it is a tournament." He said he would give the students the opportunity for due process, but stressed the importance of following the policy. He said he expected the outcome would be that the students would not be allowed to play in the tournament.
Scuzzarella: She said a part of being on a sports team is following the rules. Although she would research the situation by conversing with the police and students, she said the students would not participate in the tournament. "It's the school's position to uphold the rules."
2. In your efforts to address differences in academic achievement between Concord-Carlisle and Boston students, you realize that parents and teachers have differing views regarding what the underlying issues may be. The teachers believe that a lack of skills or persistent work habits may be the source of the problem and parents believe that it is the teachers' expectations and attitudes. How would you respond to address the concerns of both groups and what would your approach be in continuing to address the achievement differences?
Badalament: He said he would first suggest the teachers speak with the parents. "Parent communication is so important." He would work with teachers, looking at data to identify the problem. He said he would encourage a parent-teacher dialog. He said while the school does maintain high expectations, the "multi-cultural system" is a huge strength and should be supported.
Scuzzarella: She said the different views should be dealt with immediately. She would suggest bringing the two groups together, perhaps focusing first on parents who are more open and receptive. "Parents are an important piece in this." She would encourage the teachers to narrow down what the learning issues are, such as homework expectations, in their dialog with parents. To build the students' confidence in their abilities ,she suggested the staff pick an area that sees some success, such as science, math, or English, and study why that subject is successful for students. The processes that are working in one subject could be applied to areas that need more help. She suggested the teachers speak to the middle school teachers of the transitioning students. Noting that some issues, such as when or where homework is done, can be difficult to control, the staff would also need to "agree on what they can or cannot control, or you'll make yourself crazy."
3. How do you best serve the needs of an increased population of special education students when staff and space are limited?
Badalament: One of the strengths of CCHS is the Mathematics Resource Center (MARC) and the Social Studies/English Resource Center (SSERC) in which all students can receive assistance. He supports professional development in Special Education, helping teachers to develop differentiated studies (in which teachers apply a variety of learning styles). "We can't waiver from the vision of full inclusion," he said, explaining it is important to review the special education in-house programs frequently, studying the pros and cons of each.
Scuzzarella: She is a strong supporter of inclusion and "co-teaching," which involves a regular teacher and special educator sharing teaching responsibilities in a classroom setting. She said co-teaching benefits all students, not just special education students. She would support all strategies that would keep special education students in the regular classrooms, "lowering the need to go to a separate setting." Students who need support or have issues should be identified early, whether or not they have an existing IEP (individual education plan).
4. You have just heard a rumor that a student brought a weapon to school and has used the weapon to intimidate students. What will you do?
Badalament: He would immediately call the police. Principals have the right to "exclude from school (suspend)" students who carry weapons to school, he explained. He had to deal with a similar situation at his school two years ago, and it was handled very well. "Kids told us about it [the weapon]." He noted that building an atmosphere of trust is important so students feel they can speak to the staff when an issue such as this arises.
Scuzzarella: She has dealt with this situation in Beverly. The situation would have to be addressed immediately, by contacting the school's police liaison. She has had a very good relationship with the police in Beverly and would build the same relationship in Concord. The student would be removed from the school. If the student is in a situation with other students, she would have an adult the student trusts assist the police to avoid confrontation. She would authorize a search of the student's locker. The student would be suspended. "We would need to send a strong message" that weapons will not be tolerated, she added.
5. Some teachers believe that plagiarism is a disciplinary issue that should result in suspension. Others feel that it is more of an academic issue and students that plagiarize should receive a zero on the assignment and a detention. How would you deal with plagiarism?
Badalament: He believes the consequences should be outlined in the student handbook for consistency. He suggested the student would receive a zero on the assignment and a "day of detention" for the first offense. It is important for "the faculty to be proactive" and teach students that plagiarism is cheating. "If you cheat on a paper, you might cheat on taxes down the road." It is the responsibility of the school to teach what plagiarism is and how to cite sources properly.
Scuzzarella: The faculty must agree on a plagiarism policy. She pointed out there are many examples in the news of writers who have been accused of plagiarism. The problem has become more difficult, "particularly with the Internet." She expects the student would not receive credit for the assignment, and suggests "the student's parents come in for a talk with the teachers." The incident may need to be recorded somewhere so it can be tracked as a first offense. Ninth graders should be "walked through" the process of using other people's work. She wouldn't recommend suspension, but other methods of discipline should be in place.
6. A senior is caught cheating on an exam. The student's teacher has written a strong letter of recommendation to a college on behalf of the student. The teacher now wants to amend or withdraw the letter from the student's file. The parents of the student ask you to intervene on behalf of the student. How do you proceed?
Badalament: While he sees this as a serious situation, he said his motto as a principal is "do no harm" to the student's future. He said, "The student did something stupid," and it must be dealt with. He would get the parent and teacher together to discuss the situation. He said the teacher is within his/her rights to withdraw the recommendation, but he would caution the teacher not to send an explicit letter to the college explaining the student was caught cheating, as it may create legal problems. He noted the student would have already received punishment in some form at the school.
Scuzzarella: "I consider myself to be very student-centered," she said. However, the resolution is up to the teacher. She would encourage the teacher to meet with the parent and she would also meet with the parent. "I'm not in the classroom, and it is not the principal's place to ask a teacher [to not withdraw the recommendation]." She would tell the teacher, "You need to make the call yourself." It would be a difficult conversation to have with the parent and the teacher. "We may agree to disagree." She compared asking a teacher to not withdraw a recommendation to asking a teacher to change a grade, which she would not do.
7. How have you organized professional development to revise curriculum and to improve instruction?
Badalament: He promotes professional development that is "teacher-based." Teachers at Bellingham High School review MCAS scores to understand areas that need support and the staff focuses on professional development that assists in improving MCAS scores. Bellingham High School uses professional development opportunities from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). He encourages the staff to take a variety of development options.
Scuzzarella: Professional training was recently ramped up at Beverly High School. The training was interrupted by dealing with the poor quality of the building itself. (The school is currently in the middle of a $65 million construction project, and has faced possible loss of accreditation due to the condition of the school.) She said the teachers are focusing on "curriculum mapping," which involves documenting the overall goals of the curriculum, and then focusing on the ways the goals are met. Professional days are also used for technology classes. She encourages "teachers teaching teachers," in which teachers share their methods of teaching and offer feedback to each other. Teachers must build a "trust level" to be able to give constructive feedback to each other, and she asks them to use supportive language in their feedback.
Finalists for CCHS Principal
Principal, Bellingham High School, 2004 — present
Principal, Hanover High School, 2001 — 2004
Dean of Students, Concord-Carlisle Regional High School, 1997 — 2001
Social Studies Teacher, JP Stevens High School (NJ), 1993 — 1996
English Teacher, The Lab School of Washington (Wash., DC), 1991 — 1993
M.A. Education and Administration, Harvard Graduate School of Education
B.A. English, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Principal, Beverly High School, 2003 — present
Assistant Principal, Beverly High School 1999 — 2003
Director of Curriculum, Melrose Public Schools
Dean of Academic Affairs, Westford Academy
Social Studies teacher, Watertown, Winchester, and Saugus High Schools
Ph.D. Boston College, Education
M.A. Boston College, Political Science
M.A. Salem State College, Education
B.A. Salem State College, History
CCHS Principal Search Committee
Diana Rigby - Assistant Superintendent
Sharon Young - Principal Alcott
Kelly McCausland - HR Administrator
Jessica Truslow - Asst. Principal CCHS
Louisa Coleman - Principal's secretary
Barry Haley - Athletic Director CCHS
Brad McGrath - Chair Guidance
Melissa Carr - Social Studies CCHS
Joe Pickman - Visual Arts CCHS
Steve Wall - Building Services
Chad Koski - RSC*/parent
Becky Shannon - RSC
Liz Hopkinson - parent
Milagros Gonzales - parent
Phil Peck - parent
Sebastian Roger - student
Arielle Spivey - student
* Concord-Carlisle Regional
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