Principal search update: Algonquin “finalist” named, Meet & Greet Friday; Woodward hiring official

by beth on May 30, 2017

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This afternoon, the district announced the finalist for new principal of Algonquin Regional. Sara Pragluski Walsh, Ed.D was chosen to replace retiring Principal Tom Mead.

Dr. Walsh is Principal of Springfield High School of Science and Technology. HSST is one of the Springfield’s two “Magnet” high schools (alongside four other public high schools for the city).

According to the announcement, Walsh oversaw a quick “turnaround” of that school from an underperformer to success story:

Within two years as principal, she helped it grow from one that was identified by State standards as underperforming to a school that is now recognized through multiple awards as obtaining high levels of success in all educational metrics including academics, participation and school climate.

Walsh will visit Algonquin this Friday. As part of that visit, parents and community members are invited to meet her from 9:30 – 10:15 am and 5:30 – 7:00 pm in the school library.

In the past, I might have considered this just a formality before the hiring. But earlier this spring, our district announced that it was reopening the Finn Principal search after the finalist’s site visit. So, nothing is written in stone.

Speaking of the search to replace Finn & Woodward Principal James Randell. . . I never followed up on the official hiring of Steven Mucci as the new Woodward Principal. The last news I shared was that Mucci and the school were in negotiations.

Southborough Wicked Local reported that Mucci is set to start officially on July 1st. Parents will get another chance to meet the new principal before the school year’s end. You can read more on that here.

That week-old SWL story also shared that Johnson had “reached an agreement with a candidate for Finn School, but could not announce it by the Daily News deadline.” But, so far, there’s still no word on that.

As for Algonquin, the first round of a search to replace Mead was unsuccessful. Walsh was chosen after the district reopened the application process. Superintendent Christine Johnson told the Regional School Committee earlier this month that she and the search committee were looking at a candidate and would be conducting a site visit as the next step.

Johnson explained that site visits of candidates’ current workplaces were part of an old hiring process but not done in recent years. She decided that it made sense to do it again.

I guess that visit went well. The proof is in Johnson’s full announcement below: 

I am pleased to announce that a finalist for the position of Principal at Algonquin Regional High School has been selected. Sara Pragluski Walsh, Ed.D. currently serves as Principal of the Springfield High School of Science and Technology (HSST). Her excellence in teaching and learning is supported by her interest in the sciences as evidenced by her experiences and expertise in the areas of mathematics and biology. She has pursued both professional and experiential leadership in her role as Principal, Associate Principal and Assistant Principal for the Springfield Public Schools.

Dr. Walsh holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Supervision from American International College, and a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a licensed educator in mathematics and biology.

Her interest in science supports her personal passion. As a retired three-time World Class Ironman triathlete and award winning marathon runner, she continues to receive recognition for multiple finishes in marathons and ultramarathons across the United States.

Members of the Search Committee conducted a site visit to her school. The Committee met with a number of stakeholders representing parents, administrators, students, teachers and colleagues. Dr. Walsh is described as a leader who sets the bar high for herself, her students and her educational team. She is an exceptional leader who is committed to inspiring others to reach beyond their own expectations. She is described as a collaborative leader and an outstanding communicator.

Dr. Walsh is applauded for her ability to motivate, collaborate and communicate. She is a tireless worker who always focuses on the needs of students. Her ability to engage and inspire has resulted in HSST’s significant turnaround, which is reflected in an increase in achievement, participation and student performance. She is attributed with the significant turnaround of her current school. Within two years as principal, she helped it grow from one that was identified by State standards as underperforming to a school that is now recognized through multiple awards as obtaining high levels of success in all educational metrics including academics, participation and school climate.

A site visit to Algonquin Regional High School is scheduled for Friday, June 2, 2017. Parents and school community members are invited to meet with Dr. Walsh from 9:30 AM to 10:15 AM and 5:30 PM – 7 PM in the Library.

Regards,
Christine M. Johnson

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