My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Parents upset at circumstances surrounding surprise resignation of Amherst Regional Middle School Principal Glenda Cresto

by The Republican Newsroom
Wednesday September 09, 2009, 1:15 PM

AMHERST - Some parents are praising the middle school principal who resigned last month and questioning whether something could be worked out where she might be able to return.

Parents at a Tuesday night Amherst Regional School Committee meeting pressed for the reasons Glenda Cresto resigned Aug. 31, three days after the start of the school year.

Some Amherst Regional School Committee members, meanwhile, said they were concerned that Amherst Regional High School principal Mark Jackson was being overburdened by being named temporary principal of the middle school in addition to his regular duties.

Amherst Regional School Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez explained that by law he cannot divulge more information about the reason that Cresto, the former site director of the Boston Teacher Residency training program, resigned after one year on the job. She reportedly told faculty that the position wasn't a good fit for her.

Parent Karen Lavine said Cresto "was a wonderful asset to the middle school." She said there are concerns that her resignation "was shrouded in mystery."

One parent, Julia Y. Rueschenmeyer, asked whether Rodriguez would contact Cresto to see if they could discuss the possibility of her returning under Rodriguez's tutelage. Rodriguez said Cresto would need to contact him with the request.

Committee member Catherine A. Sanderson would also like to see Cresto return. In an e-mail, she wrote that she felt that Cresto was "making good progress" on changes at the school. "I certainly wish she would come back, and I certainly have heard that sentiment expressed by parents in the community," Sanderson said. She also believes having a stable leader would be better than the temporary plan in place.

Parents were also upset that they didn't find out about the resignation right away.

Rodriguez apologized and said he could have done a better job at communicating the news, but that his first concern was ensuring interim leadership was in place.

"My priority was acting quickly to bring stability to the middle school," he said.

Diane Chamberlain, the South Amherst campus program coordinator for special education, will be designated as temporary assistant principal, joining Annie M. Leonard and Miki Lee Gromacki in support of high school matters.

Michael C. Hayes, a former co-principal at the middle school, will serve as senior assistant principal during an interim period, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the middle school.

School committee member Irvin E. Rhodes said he was concerned about having Jackson "being between two schools. I'd like to see it as temporary as possible."

Rodriguez said he would reexamine the situation in December and will begin a search for a new principal. However, he believes that since most likely candidates for the job are already locked into contracts at other schools, a new principal would not begin until July 1. He also said he wants to hire a consultant to evaluate the middle school.


Anonymous said...

"My priority was acting quickly to bring stability to the middle school," he said.

That certainly worked!

Anonymous said...

So far, I am not impressed with Dr. Rodriquez's performance. If his goal is to shake things up in
Amherst he has certainly accomplished his goal.

It is hard to comment on whether he has handled the Glenda Cresto matter correctly or wisely without knowing all the facts. But to this outside observer Ms. Cresto's resignation and the resulting outcome has all the earmarks of a fiasco!!!

Dr. Rodriquez should reach out to Ms. Cresto and encourage her to stay the year, if possible, or as long as she can. Otherwise, the middle school will be in turmoil for this entire school year.

I hope, if Ms. Cresto does not come back, that this situation puts an end to any thought of moving the 6th grade to the middle school any time soon. I admit that Amherst very often moves VERY slowly in making changes. But hasty changes can be just as detrimental to the goal of a quality school system, if not more so.

One last comment - why isn't Dr. Rodriquez doing program reviews and school reviews himself? Why are we paying him and paying for outside consultants to do what I thought was the job of the Superindentent. Perhaps I am mistaken and these type of reviews are not usually done by the Superindentent. Can someone please enlighten me?

Again, I freely admit that I do not have any more facts around Ms. Cresto's resignation than what I have read in the paper so it is hard to know if her resignation is the right thing. What I do see, however, from the outside looking in, is ALOT of chaos!! I hope the SC is on top of this situation and is working to bring order out of the seeming chaos. Is there any way the SC can rein in Dr. Rodriquez?

Anonymous said...

"...he wants to hire a consultant to evaluate the middle school."

No, not another one!

Joe said...

Fiasco at the middle school didn't start this year with Glenda Cresto's resignation it started even before the first day with the scheduling process.

If it is "all about the kids", ask any student in middle school what has been the biggest fiasco and my guess they would say it was the changes in schedules not the departure of Glenda Cresto.

I'm surprised how little attention has been focused on the scheduling fiasco relative to the resignation. Clearly, establishing schedules is a primary focus of the administration during the summer. The fact that there were so many problems with schedules and it impacted so many students is a huge problem. A problem that was created by the administration under the leadership of Glenda Cresto.

Thankfully the scheduling problems have since been fixed. However, I would want to fully understand what happened with the schedules before suggesting that Dr. Rodriquez should reach out to Ms. Cresto and encourage her to stay.

Anonymous said...


Please go back to the Press Release post on 8/31, and look at the questions from Anon Sep 3 3:39PM. Answers to those questions would help a great deal here, no?

Regarding your comment,"the scheduling problems have since been fixed", makes me think you don't live with one of the many
8th graders who have found their new, fixed schedules less than appealing.

Anonymous said...

"Rob Detweiler presented the final 2009 budget results, which revealed that the Amherst schools returned $220,379 to the town in unspent funds at the end of the year."

Didn't we need budget cuts? I'm confused. Please enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

Yes- like my son's PE class- now with 60 kids- he said that they spend more than half of the time taking attendance.

Fed Up Parent said...

Anon 8:12PM, you are right! My child has seen two complete schedule changes since the start of school, each time requiring reconnection to his classmates as well as trying to figure out where he might be behind or ahead with the material. I, too, would like more information on how/why this happened!

Anonymous said...

I think a key problem with the middle school schedules is that students can have up to 8 classes which fit into a 2 semester system better than a trimester system. At the high school, I've heard that students have only 5 classes each trimester -- not 8. Other schools on trimester systems also have 5 classes per trimester.

The idea with the trimester system is to take fewer classes each trimester but go into more depth. The semester system lets kids carry more classes, because each semester lasts longer.

At the middle school, to accomodate 8 classes, the schedule is so confusing that I could not keep track of it. On Monday, my child had 8 classes for 42 minutes. Last year, the kids had a schedule for one week of classes, switched the schedule the next week, then went back to the first week's schedule. Previously the kids were on a 9 day rotation.

I also question what is the relationship between being a good principal and being able to write up a really complicated schedule for 250 kids. Yes, it's part of this principal's job but maybe it's something that can be delegated to staff better at it.