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, January 12, 2011

Superintendent Finalists Announced

So, I am delighted to announce that the search committee has chosen three finalists to move forward in our search for the next superintendent of the Amherst and Regional schools.  Let me start by saying that I am honored to have been chosen by the Amherst SC to serve on the search committee, and particularly honored to have worked with the 9 members of this search committee:  Rick and Nora (from the Regional and Pelham SCs), two teachers (Stephanie Joyce from CF and Mark Moriarty from ARHS), a principal (Mike Morris from CF), one community member (Elaine Puleo, Shutesbury SB chair), and 3 parents (Eva Rosenn - HS parent from Leverett, Navneet Marwaha - FR parent, Pat Ononibaku - HS parent from Amherst).  This was a great group of people who I truly believe were focused on bringing forward the best finalists to our community.  Thanks also to John and Al from HYA, who brought forward a great group of candidates for us to consider;  the money we spent hiring this firm was money very well spent.

The three candidates are:

Tuesday, January 18th - Dr. John Bayless (BA in Science and Social Science, Minor in Biology, and MA from Cal State U - Pomona, EdD from USC), who has served as a superintendent in many different California districts for many years.  He has also worked as a teacher and principal, and has achieved certificates in business and personnel.  (see full bio at

Wednesday, January 19th - Ms. Maria Geryk (BA from Westfield State College, MA in School Psychology and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from U Mass), who has served as an interim superintendent in Amherst over the last year.  She has also worked as a director of special education, school psychologist, school adjustment counselor, and special education teacher.  (see full bio at

Thursday, January 20th - Dr. Gerald Kohn (BA in Biology from Princeton, MA in Teaching from Montclair State College, EdD in Education Administration from Harvard), who has served as a superintendent in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts for over 20 years.  He has also worked as an assistant superintendent, director of desegregation, math department coordinator, and teacher. (see full bio at

I hope we can remember that we are trying to make a good impression on all three candidates, as they are choosing us just as we are choosing them!  So, let's focus on the many positive experiences and attributes of these three finalists, as we try to choose the one who is the very best fit for the Amherst and Regional schools at this time.

I encourage all parents, teachers, and community members to meet the candidates when they are in town next week.  There will be feedback forms available at all events for those who attend to complete;  this information will be given to the School Committee for consideration.

The schedule of events on each of three days is as follows:

8:00 am to 9:00 am - Coffee with parents/community  in the ARMS cafeteria
9:00 am to 9:30 am - Central office welcome and quick tour
9:30 am to 10:30 am - Administrators/Superintendent's Council
10:30 am to noon - Tour of ARMS/ARHS (by principals)
Noon to 1:00 pm - Lunch with chairs of Pelham and Amherst School Committees
1:00 pm to 2:30 pm - Tour of elementary schools
2:30 pm to 3:30 pm - Reception with parents/community members at Wildwood
3:45 pm to 4:45 pm - Meeting with teachers at ARMS Library
4:45 pm to 5:45 pm - Dinner
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm - School Committee interview (ARHS Library)

 Now, let's please all keep fingers crossed for NO snow days next week!

Finally, the selection meeting in which the Regional and Union 26 School Committees (both must agree) will take place starting at 8:30 pm on Thursday, January 20th, in the ARHS library.

Just adding a brief update, which is to attach the Gazette article on the finalists:

I also want to note that I will not post any remarks that comment (positively or negatively) on any of the three finalists:  people who have questions and/or comments should review the candidates full credentials (to be posted soon on the ARPS website), and attend events with the candidates next week.


Anonymous said...

Can I trust that the credentials will not only state that they have degrees in education but WHAT those degrees are in?

Or perhaps you could expand upon your announcement and list what each of these degrees you cited were in? This sounds pretty neutral to me -- and helpful.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 2:38 - sure - will add that info!

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

So, I added whatever I could find in their published bios on the topic of their degrees. I was not able to find the topic of Ms. Geryk's BA or Dr. Bayless's MA and EdD. I hope parents and community members will ask about these in the meetings.

Ed said...

I am going to comment on procedure here, not any of the candidates -- and as one who himself served on a rather politicized search in the past, do understand how much those involved really just want this over --- I really don't think the decision should be made the evening of the final candidate's presentation.

This looks bad -- no matter who is hired, he/she/it will inevitably be attacked with something along the lines of "if the boards had an extra day for me to tell them [whatever] about that person, they would instead have hired the person whom I wanted."

And on a more practical issue, exactly what benefit is there to making written comments about the third candidate -- exactly when will anyone read them? (After the vote to hire and then to what end are the comments?)

So what this process does is essentially sabotage the candidate before he/she/it has a chance to even try to mend the hurt feelings of those who were championing another candidate.

We do not need to do business like this. Take an extra week -- you are hiring what is likely the highest paid municipal employee in three of the towns involved, quite likely all four, take the extra week and avoid this firefight.

Anonymous said...

Just read the bios of the three candidates on the ARPS Web site. The search committee did a great job -- these are three excellent candidates! Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 2:24 - thanks for the kind words! I look forward to the community learning more about all of the candidates next week. I share your enthusiasm!

California EDD said...

Thanks very much for posting the summary of the candidates, its very helpful for those too busy to do the research.