, Salem, MA

November 27, 2012

Search begins for new Peabody principal

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — The search for a new Peabody High School principal has begun. Superintendent Joseph Mastrocola will formally notify the school board in a letter tonight.

Current Principal Ed Sapienza is retiring in June.

Mastrocola is initiating the hiring process by seeking members to fill out a screening committee. Those interested in serving should contact Barbara McCarthy at by Jan. 4.

The committee members are meant to have a broad background. Included would be three teachers, two administrators, three parents (including one from the high school council), three high school students, two people from the community, a School Committee member and one staffer from the department’s central office.

The screeners are expected to select three finalists for the job by Feb. 15. By Feb. 28, the superintendent is set to name his choice from among the three.

School Committee member Beverley Griffin-Dunne is praising the superintendent’s plan and particularly the varying experiences of those slated for the search committee.

“He’s getting a lot of different perspectives,” she said.

Dunne describes the similar process used to select Mastrocola for his job. As many as 30 applicants expressed an interest in that position.

The search committee “worked closely with the human resources director as far as being able to sift through them,” Dunne said.

Some applicants were eliminated for not having sufficient or appropriate work experience or education. Others were invited for interviews, and the three best of these were presented to the School Committee for final interviews.

In this case, the superintendent is expected to make the final decision after he interviews the three finalists. As for the school board’s role in choosing the principal, Dunne explains that a lot of that will take place tonight. “(The superintendent) will be taking our input as to what qualifications we’re looking for.”

Whoever is chosen, Dunne believes, steps into an advantageous spot at the high school. “Ed Sapienza is leaving that school in better shape than he found it. ... He put his heart and soul into that position.”

Dunne is co-president of the high school’s parent-teacher organization. “It’s a very well-run school. I’m saying that as a School Committee member and a parent. I do know a lot of parents who are pleased with Peabody High School.”

She added that she hopes whoever is chosen “is someone who is going to continue to move the program forward.”