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 16, 2009

Rodriguez: Cresto's resignation final, amicable

Hampshire Gazette
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

AMHERST - Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez announced Tuesday that Glenda Cresto will not withdraw her resignation as principal of the Regional Middle School and described her parting as an amicable one.

Rodriguez said he spoke to Cresto Monday at the urging of a school parent. "I can assure the community that Ms. Cresto is on her way to bigger and better things," he said. "I know the community felt there needed to be closure."

Meanwhile, High School Principal Mark Jackson described the "awkward situation" of his taking responsibility for both buildings two weeks ago.

Jackson spoke to a group of 70 middle school parents Monday, and to the School Committee Tuesday. "There's no handbook on how to manage a transition like this," he said. "I wasn't a candidate for this job."

He noted that he was a middle school principal elsewhere for 10 years, and Mike Hayes, the senior assistant principal at the middle school, has 10 years experience there.

Jackson said he wants to clearly define roles and responsibility to avoid "careening."

"We want to avoid pinballing ourselves from one urgent emergency to another, so there's a sense of settledness on the large issues we face," he said.

Jackson urged parents who have questions about courses or assignments to contact teachers or department heads. "I am going to have to step back from some of the first-line contact with parents and students," he said.

The plan is for Jackson to be principal of both regional schools until December and then reassess the situation. He said there are some positive aspects.

First, budget preparation for next year may be more efficient and unified because he oversees both schools, he said. Also, he will get a better sense of how aligned the two schools are instructionally. He noted that the two schools share some faculty, such as in music and language.

Several committee members said they felt reassured by Jackson's presentation. But member Andy Churchill said he is "concerned that we don't burn out the high school principal, too." Member Steve Rivkin urged that a "serious evaluation" of math instruction in the middle school proceed and warned of "inertia."

Member Catherine Sanderson said she was concerned that residents who think the schools have too many administrators will look at the temporary staffing setup and conclude that it is adequate. She said she's heard from parents who worry that the middle school will be "treading water for a year."


Rick said...

I don’t think the article describes the meeting that well. The 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th paragraphs make it sound like it’s going to be a hairy ride for Jackson to avoid disaster. That’s not the feeling I got at the meeting.

I know Mark pretty well and last night just confirmed for me again what a fantastic guy he is. I wouldn’t be the least bit worried about ARHS sliding backwards because of his work at ARMS. A good principal sets up a core of people that can run the placed without him – at least for a while – and he has done that at ARHS. He was away quite a bit last year due to his brother’s illness and things were fine.

Having said that, Steve Rivkin’s concerns about extensions (and ARMS in general) being examined should be heard. It sounds like the extensions idea is an important enough subject that we cannot go into the next school year without having resolved it, so that has to get moving very soon in order to figure it out by late spring.

By the way I am not for or against extensions. On the face of it I don’t see what’s wrong with the idea. I would examine both the idea of extensions and how they are implemented. It could be mainly an implementation problem and not a problem with extensions per se. Or it could be a problem with the idea of extensions itself

The administration comment from the Superintendent the other day was unfortunate (see “Principal's sudden resignation called 'distressing' by parents" posted below)

"Splitting Mark threatens to make him psychotic," said Rhodes. "I want his full attention on the high school."

Rodriguez responded that "it's not like the school is devoid of administrators."

But surely what he meant is what I described above; that Mark has a team that can work without him being there all the time - for a while.

Cathy C said...

I have been so impressed with the transition of leadership at ARMS. It cemented my impression that Mark is an excellent delegator. I agree with Rick that Mark won't be neglecting ARHS to save ARMS. Mark, Mike and Libby have demonstrated their commitment and leadership to the Middle School. I look forward to the year with this interim team of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Tom G said...

The two pieces that must be managed well is the organization of the interim administration, and the hiring process for ARMS leadership going forward.

Has the superintendent indicated a greater sense of urgency in soliciting applications for the ARMS head of school yet?

Anonymous said...

The kids respect Mark Jackson.

That's huge.

Let's not ruin this.

Anonymous said...

And some of the kids respect the Middle School teachers, despite considerable effort on the part of some members of the community to tear them down. Losing Glenda was one thing, let's make an effort not to lose the talented teachers - and there are more than a handful - we have at the MS with her.