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, March 31, 2010

Finalists Announced for Middle School Principal Position

UPDATE, March 31:

Mr. Paul Goodhind notified the Human Resources Director this afternoon that he is withdrawing from the finalist pool as Middle School Principal. The remaining candidates, Mr. Michael Hayes and Mr. Karsten Schlenter, will be spending a full day in the district tomorrow as previously scheduled.

Three finalists have been announced for the position of Amherst Regional Middle School Principal: Karsten Schlenter, Michael Hayes, and Paul Goodhind.

The finalists will visit the district on Thursday, April 1, 2010 and will spend the day on site at the Middle School in a variety of settings. Each candidate will begin his day with a building tour, followed by meetings with staff, students, elementary and secondary administrators, and Central Office administrators. The public forums will be held in the Middle School library on the evening of April 1 at the following times:

  1. Karsten Schlenter 6:30 - 7:15 p.m.
  2. Michael Hayes 7:15 - 8:00 p.m.

We invite all members of the community to attend the forums and provide input into this very important decision for our school district.

For more information about the search, see


Anonymous said...

Karsten Schlenter is a finalist within a couple of other school districts as well (Winchester, MA and South Burlington, VT.)

They are ahead of us with the interviewing/ hiring process. Will he wait for us slow pokes?

Anonymous said...

Two finalists are unacceptable. This search should be stopped. Everyone knew it would be Mike H. all along. The signs were there. He had said he would not run, but a week before the demise of the ex-super he was back on. Coincidence?

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 9:56 - I imagine, given that the two finalists are interviewing tomorrow, that the superintendent could, if necessary, make a quick offer.

Anonymous 10:14 - obviously the superintendent makes all decisions about choosing the candidate/failing a search. I believe parents who are interested in this search should come hear both finalists tomorrow night and share their own thoughts with the superintendent (forms will be provided).

Anonymous said...

The parents who will show up will be the ones working directly for the super. Did you read the quote from the person who organized the first coffee with the super? This is the group who will show up tomorrow.
I think other parents know of the plan and the mock search. Can't the school committee put a stop to the search if we don't have viable candidates?

Anonymous said...

I'm posting here because I cannot find if either question that came up previously were answered, and I'm curious:

Why has the community not seen the Acting Super's resume? (and did the SC see it before appointment?)

Has Amherst had a Curriculum Director in the past?



Anonymous said...

For the most informed news of the day read the information on the HS Parents Cebter website:

Abbie said...

To anon@749:
It says on the M. Hayes posted cv (not at all a cv) that he was curriculum administrator. Doesn't say when or for how long (and it should). I don't know what is the operational difference between a director and an administrator. I am very interested to hear what M. Hayes has to say about his experience as the Curriculum administrator (and what that job entailed) and his role in implementing the extensions program and current opinion on that process. These are both controversial issues (poor curricular alignment and extensions) so I think it's reasonable and critical to hear what he has to say about them...

Frustrated Parent said...

I think Mike Hayes was the previous Curriculum Director. At least according to the announcement about the two MS principal finalists: "Mr. Hayes has been employed at the Amherst Regional Middle School for over 12 years, most recently serving as Senior Assistant Principal. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Hayes was K-12 Curriculum Administrator for the district."

I don't remember ever hearing anything about what Mr. Hayes did as "Curriculum Administrator"or what is different about a "Curriculum Director"and a "Curriculum Administrator." Mr. Beers noted the almost complete lack of horizontal and vertical alignment of curriculum throughout our this an example of Mike Hayes'work? If we could see his actual resume, we would know how long he served in that position. Was it years? Months?

Can someone please help us out here by posting resumes of the two candidates as well as of our new Superintendent? Or can we at least get a public statement regarding why these cannot be posted?

Anonymous said...

We don't have to worry about trying to beat Winchester: "Posted Mar 25, 2010 @ 01:39 PM
Winchester, MA — Winchester Superintendent William McAlduff Jr. announced last Thursday he will not appoint any of the three current finalists for the McCall Middle School principal position.

“After careful and extensive consideration I have decided to suspend the search at this time and not move any one of our three finalists forward,” McAlduff wrote in an e-mail to parents. “There are many reasons and considerations in making this decision but in the end it was clear to me that none of the candidates emerged as the one candidate who best fit all of our needs.”

Anonymous said...

Karsten Schlenter's resume is posted on the South Burlington, VT principal search web site. If we can't see it on our own web site, we can at least find it elsewhere on-line!

Anyone have a link to Mike Hayes'resume somewhere on-line?

Anonymous said...

It bothers me that I have to go to South Burlington's website to review the resume of a candidate for MS principal. Especially since several people requested over 1 week ago to have the candidates' full resumes posted for the community to review. Ugh!

Anonymous said...

"The parents who will show up will be the ones working directly for the super."

Parents work directly for the super? I think you are projecting your negative perspective a bit. Parents who show up will be the ones who are taking the time out of their lives to participate in this principal search.

What more can you say about them? We can speculate in thesame manner about who shows up at the polls to vote. In America, we have the freedom to vote, yet we rarely get even 50% of eligible voters to participate.

Why? Because those who do vote are taking the time out of their lives to participate.

Please don;t point fingers of accusation and blame at people who are participating in the process. Instead of complaining about who you think is controlling thingss, why don't you show up and participate? Why don't you get involved and rally like minded people to get involved and then you can affect the situation.

That is what democarcy looks like.

Otherwise, it's just arm chair quarterbacking and sounds a lot like whining.

This school committee member, with whom I disagree with almost across the board, has gotten involved and is participating. Good on her.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Anonymous 10:45 - the MS principal forum has been widely announced, and I expect that parents who care about this search will attend (and that those parents will likely have a range of views regarding the characteristics that lead to the best fit).

H.T. - I am on the SC and I personally have never seen Maria Geryk's resume. I do not know if other SC members have seen it. In terms of curriculum director -- last year Mike Hayes and Fran Ziperstein served in some type of curriculum director co-role. I'm not sure about the work product that emerged from this work. In the past, Wendy Kohler served as a curriculum director of sorts, but also worked on grants and professional development and other types of things. I'm not sure of her official title.

Anonymous 8:33 - yes, this was very funny!

Abbie - my recollection is that Mike Hayes served as a co-curriculum director from 2008-2009 (with Fran Ziperstein). I believe he was to serve in that role this year (given the failed search for the Asst. super for curriculum last spring) but then took over as MS principal following Glenda's departure.

Frustrated Parent - I believe Mike Hayes served as a co-curriculum director for one year (this is based on my recollection as a member of SC). Prior to that I believe he was an assistant principal at the MS (and a math teacher). I have asked for the resumes of both finalists to be posted, but this is just a request from one SC member, and this would ultimately be the superintendent's decision.

Anonymous 9:40 - thanks for the update!

Anonymous 9:46 - thanks for posting the link to the other finalist's resume. I have asked for the resumes of both finalists to be posted, and hope that will happen.

Anonymous 2:48 - I fully agree that parents/community members who want to be involved should/can step up! And thank you for the oddest compliment I've ever received: "This school committee member, with whom I disagree with almost across the board, has gotten involved and is participating. Good on her." Ummm, can you just share with me (on this blog or through my private email: what you believe we disagree about?!? I often find that people believe they disagree with me based on what they've heard from others, but actually don't disagree when they take the time to actually talk to me about particular issues.

Anonymous said...

K Schlenter has a website. There is a link posted with his resume on the South Burlington site. Appears, on the surface, in my opinion, to be a viable candidate. Only glaring thing I noticed was the visual demographic of the student body-not incredibly diverse. And when he addresses multiculturalism on his site it sounds a bit generic ie: recognize Black History month and have foreign exchange students give presentations on their native cultures. Will be looking forward to hearing/seeing more from him.

Anonymous said...

"....recognize Black History month and have foreign exchange students give presentations on their native cultures." (Mr Schlenter's experience with diversity in action in Burlington, VT)

you've got to be kidding me.
that is so lame, I'm feeling around for my reading glasses to make sure I read that correctly.

can we NOT hire appropriate people from NY, CA etc who would like to live in a nice place?????sheesh.

Ed said...

obviously the superintendent makes all decisions about choosing the candidate/failing a search.


When I was hired to be a classroom teacher (this was in Maine) it was the SCHOOL COMMITTEE that actually hired me. Yes, it was a "show up & smile" type thing, the decision was already made and this was just a formality, but it WAS a formality. THEY were the people hiring me...

Yes you defer to your superintendent, but that does not mean that you abandon all responsibilities.... The School Committee represent the people paying the bills, the Supt does not!

One other thing -- I sent my inquiry to the School Committee for MG's CV and other than the autoreply daemon about public records, NO ONE HAS BOTHERED TO GET BACK TO ME!

I am not saying that anyone has anything to hide, let alone is trying to do that, but it sure looks like that!!!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone go to the parent's forum with the two candidates last night? I would love to hear some feedback/reactions etc.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for posting anonymously but we have a middle-schooler and I wouldn't want any problems for my child.

I saw the presentations of the MS finalists last night and was VERY impressed with Mr. Schlenter!! He has decades of experience in middle school, as a teacher (of multiple subjects) as well as a principal/assistant principal. His school is only 45 students smaller than ours yet he manages it with no assistant principal, no guidance counselor, and only 23 teachers!! Yet his school consistently scores well on the state exams and earns awards. This is an example of efficiency at its best!

I was also impressed with the way Mr. Schlenter talked about the kids. It is clear that he values spending time among them (unlike Mr. Hayes who my child doesn't even recognize) and feels as if they are the true focus of the school. He also has three teenage daughters and after living through pre-teens and teens myself, I firmly believe that you cannot truly understand middle school culture until you have witnessed it through a child close to you. Mr. Schlenter has that perspective.

I urge the Superintendent to put aside her personal feelings for Mr. Hayes (and will admit the fact that they are friends must put her in an awkward position) and do the best thing for our kids--hire Mr. Schlenter. If the School Committee can help influence this is any way, I urge you to do so. Mr. Hayes is not ready.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Mr. Schlenter appeared to be an excellent candidate!

I really hope we can do the right thing and hire him. I agree that it is a problem for organizations when coworkers hire each other.

Anonymous said...

I was also very impressed by Karsten Schlenter. If you were not able to be there last night you should take a look at his website. He seems to have done great things at that school and is full of energy.
One specific thing that impressed me was how he would deal with a new teacher who was not up to par. Instead of firing them on the spot he said he would work with them and get them training first.
Like the previous poster I am also impressed by how much he does in his role there with much less help. Sounds like someone who can find ways to save us money.

Anonymous said...

I had a different reaction than 6:24 AM.

I think Mr Schlenter is coming from such a different type of district and school that he would find leading this middle school in
this community different and very hard. I worry he could be another short term person once he gets in here.

I appreciate that Mr Hayes knows this school and community and faculty well. I have heard from teachers that he has grown into a good leader since the last time he applied for this position. (He would probably agree that he was not ready the last time) All of his positions have been interim or acting for the last few years, so he might not have been able to enact his vision as well as he could have.

It is definitely an awkward position, as I think that Mr Hayes is the better choice here, but I see that there is pressure on Ms Geryk to not choose him, but for reasons that have little to do with his qualifications.

Another option mentioned is to fail the search but then we end up with some other sort of interim in there which could not be good.

Why after two full searches do we keep ending up with so few qualified candidates to consider. This job used to be an attractive one, but no longer seems to be.

Abbie said...

I went to the forum last night. In my mind Mr. Schlenter was so obviously the better candidate that if Mr. Hayes is hired then something VERY wrong is going on. If that were to happen I would have to think seriously about alternatives to the MS when we reach that stage. Mr. Schlenter impressed me greatly and I had walked into the forum expecting weak candidates given the apparently small pool of qualified candidates. Mr. Schlenter has a lot of experience and I liked everything he said. I really liked his comment that good teaching requires that teachers are able to relate to their student and gain their trust and THEN students will accept their teaching. Wise words and I hope all teachers understand that concept.

I was so very very underwhelmed by Mr. Hayes. He spent a large fraction of his limited time to speak at the beginning wasting time that should have been spent telling us why he would be the BEST principle we could hire. This should make alarm bells ring in everyone's ears. He is extremely inexperienced and even said that when he currently doesn't know what to do in a situation he gives Mark Jackson a call. That's fine now because he is an assistant principal but what would happen when he IS the principal? Who will he call when he doesn't know what to do?

Frankly, I am appalled that he made it to the finalists. He may very well be a fine person, but he doesn't have the qualifications or experience to be a principle of our MS.

Anonymous said...

I was at the forum as well.

I agree with some points that Anon 6:24 made. But I'm wondering if he/she left at 7:30.

Mr Hayes was clear and articulate. He specifically addressed the concerns of so many on this blog (eg. extensions, Beers report) and clearly demonstrated that he was a better candidate. He demonstrated extensive knowledge of curriculum, sound pedagogy of differentiation, data based decisions and considerable flexibility. After all that he has seen and been through, knowing this district as he does, he is still willing to be here. I counted 10 teachers that I knew there, who I think were there primarily to support him - they had a chance to ask both candidates questions earlier in the day.

Mr. Schlenter has some nice credentials and seems like a nice guy. I'm concerned about his lack of experience working with diverse populations. Also, it sounded a lot he supports a math program real similar to the one we presently have, at least in grade 8.

Ed said...

Excuse me for posting anonymously but we have a middle-schooler and I wouldn't want any problems for my child.

See Margary Eagan, Boston Herald:

See last paragraph: "But we now know why Phoebe Prince did not believe her torment would end. She told her mother, who told the school. Yet on the day she died, she was attacked in the library right in front of a teacher. She was attacked again in the hallway and again as she walked home. Two hours later, her little sister found her wearing the very same clothes she wore to school. Phoebe Prince had ended her torment herself."

After a very different school committee rubber-stamped the Vagina Monologue the first time, parents (who didn't know me) came up afterwards and thanked me for speaking against the play because they did not dare to do so. They were convinced that doing so would place their children in physical danger.

Catherine, I have raised this before and I raise it again: what is the district doing about bullying? I am not talking about the name calling and such but things that if they happened to you or I, right here and now, we would dial 911 and a police officer would come and arrest the perp for various criminal offenses (e.g. assault, aggravated assault, destruction of property, etc.)

What is the district doing about things that - in the adult world - are real crimes which people are not expected to have to tolerate?

Anonymous said...

"I wouldn't want any problems for my child"

This appears to be a real concern for people who speak their minds about the schools.

And this is why this blog exists.

Very sad.

Anonymous said...

My observations from the forum are more along the lines of 9:36.

I do think that Mr Hayes is a better choice for the school absed on his experience HERE and the changes/vision he seems ready to implement if given the reins. Unfortunately for him he will be treated very abdly on this blog if he is chosen, but I hope he is smart enough not to read thsi stuff here.

Mr Schlenter is, I'm sure, a real nice guy. He seemed to have little experience with two things that are very prevalent in this district: cultural diversity and special ed. These are important areas to understand to work here.

It is sad to read the paranoid comments on this blog like:

"The parents who will show up will be the ones working for the super"


"Excuse me for posting anonymously but we have a middle-schooler and I wouldn't want any problems for my child"

Apparently this is these folks perception and I know perception becomes reality, but please!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is a good justification for hiring someone: "After all that he has seen and been through, knowing this district as he does, he is still willing to be here." The quote from a poster above. I think Mr. Hayes made it very clear last night that he had just bought a home he loves in Pelham and has a young daughter he wants to go to the Pelham school. He has also NEVER been a professional teacher or administrator in another school district. This is what he knows. It is no suprise to me that he would want to stay. This is not a good reason to hire someone. In fact, it is a good reason to consider someone else instead.

Abbie said...


YOU posted anonymously!! What's your reason? Those who live in glass houses and all...

Are you a teacher, perhaps? Why would someone feel the need to post anonymously when they are supporting the person here?? Why no own your opinion? I hope that the Superintendent KNOWS the identity of those who are providing feedback and weighs it accordingly.