Martha’s Vineyard school superintendent highlights changes

Ralph Stewart

As we begin the 2012-2013 school year, I want to use this opportunity to update the Island on all that has happened since June. As with every summer, our office was extremely busy switching from one fiscal year to another, hiring replacement teachers, administrators and support staff, as well as preparing for another September.

There have been several administrative changes, due in large part to retirements and resignations. With the retirement of Director of Student Support Services Dan Seklecki and the rapid departure of his initial replacement, I asked Donna Lowell-Bettencourt to serve as our Director for the year. Thankfully, Donna has the correct licensure and has a broad knowledge of our Island schools. Filling in for Donna at West Tisbury will be Mary Boyd who has taught at West Tisbury for many years. Robyn Gurney will continue in the position of Early Childhood Coordinator that she assumed in February 2012. Finally, at the High School, Will Verbits has been hired to lead the Special Education Department in that building, replacing Laura Gliga who retired in June.

Building principals have been very busy interviewing and selecting teachers and support staff to fill the vacancies that always develop. As in the past, we have experienced some difficulty in acquiring World Language and science teachers, but otherwise the pool of candidates has been exceptional. The High School did a great deal of hiring as it restructured its Alternative Ed programs and began a new special education program for students with social and emotional difficulties.

Over the summer, our administrative staff spent a great deal of time preparing for the implementation of the new State-mandated professional educator evaluation program. Our previous work developing the Professional Growth System gave the Island a wonderful head start, and trainers from Research for Better Teaching helped us work through this updated model. Special thanks go to Assistant Superintendent Laurie Halt for her outstanding work preparing for this transition.

On the building front, Business Administrator Amy Tierney worked closely with the Tisbury School to move its feasibility study forward. Amy also worked with a volunteer group from Up-Island to build a cafeteria program and upgrade the West Tisbury kitchen so that it could prepare meals for both Up-Island schools. Finally, the study of the Superintendent’s Office building in Tisbury moved forward yielding a plan to construct a new facility on the High School campus.

The opening of school is always an exciting time! I trust that parents, teachers and students are ready to start a new school year. Our buses are ready, the cafeterias are stocked, and our custodians did an excellent job of preparing the facilities. Let’s make the 2012-2013 school year a truly special one.

Superintendent James Weiss was hired to lead the Martha’s Vineyard school system in 2005.