2012-05-24 / News

Search continues for Lawn Avenue principal

Special committee will begin screening process

Progress is being made in the search for a new Lawn Avenue School principal, according to Superintendent Marcia Lukon’s remarks at the May 17 School Committee meeting.

May 22 was the deadline for applicants showing interest in the position, which was advertised nationally through an online education database, as well as on the Boston Globe’s website. After the applications are received, a screening committee comprised of teachers, parents and administrators who have volunteered to be a part of the hiring process will begin reviewing candidate applications.

“We have very specific criteria about what the job of the screening committee is and isn’t,” said Lukon.

She prefers that a school administrator chair the screening panels. “I know my administrators, and I grill them on the procedure,” she said.

Lukon explained the importance of diverse interests being represented in the groups who will interview chosen candidates. “The more people that have a part in the decision, the more support that administrator will have, and he or she is going to need it.”

Those best suited for the position, according to the screening committee and Lukon, will then be interviewed. The candidate who receives Lukon’s recommendation must then be voted into their appointment by the School Committee.

Lukon hopes that this “tried and true” hiring practice will find the right candidate who can be interviewed and hired in time to begin work on July 1. Lukon said she isn’t trying to rush it, but would like to see it happen in a timely manner.

“If you’ve got a couple of candidates that you’re really undecided about, sometimes you go do a site visit,” she said. “You visit their school district and spend a half a day there and talk to various people. We keep the process going until we’re sure we have the right person. If all of this happens and none of them are the right person, I’ll go back and do it all over again.”

From application reviews, to screenings, interviews and possible school visits, Lukon explains that the community’s involvement is a necessary part of this process. “This shouldn’t be my decision. This is the community’s school,” she said. “Regardless of who gets recommended to me, it’s my recommendation to the School Committee that this is the candidate and they have to vote and approve that. I won’t recommend someone to them that I don’t think is going to be able to do the job and do it well.”

Though the School Committee’s meeting was brief, lasting about 30 minutes, a moment was taken to recognize the retirement of preschool teacher Peggy Wark, known affectionately to many as “Miss Peggy.”

“Of all of the people I heard about before I was on the School Committee, everybody raved about how wonderful Miss Peggy is as a teacher for our preschool, and I think it would behoove us to recognize that,” said committee member B.J. Whitehouse. “I think I’ve heard more positive things about Miss Peggy than anybody else, and that’s not a competition. That’s the truth.”

“Miss Peggy has been with us for 21 years,” said Lukon. “It’s with sadness that we’ve received her [retirement] letter.”

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