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Finalists Named for Carroll and South School Principal Jobs

Three finalists apiece will be interviewed for the two elementary school principal positions. Out of the six, three candidates currently work in the district.

The superintendent's office says there are now three finalists each for the open principal positions at the South and Carroll elementary schools.

Interim principals were hired at both schools in recent months, following the promotion of Cara Murtagh to Assistant Superintendent from the Carroll last summer and the retirement of Maryellen McGrath from the South at the end of January.

The South School finalists are Katelin Kennedy, Matthew Fusco and Tracy Smith. Kennedy has been at the school for nine years, the last three as Assistant Principal before serving as Interim Principal as of Feb. 1.

Fusco is the principal at Great Oak Elementary School in Danvers and Smith is an eighth grade housemaster at Higgins Middle School, where she has worked since 2009.

Over at the Carroll School, where retired principal Paul Guerrette was hired as Interim Principal in August, the finalists for the permanent job are Amy Pasquarello, Linda Currety and Rebecca Gordon.

Pasquarello is a fifth grade teacher and assistant principal at the Burke School (she actually was just hired for that job this past fall), Curretty is the lower school principal at the Tenney Grammar School in Methuen and Gordon is the assistant principal at Northeast Elementary School in Waltham.

Nearly 40 candidates applied for both positions. The finalists will be interviewed later this month.

Saber Walsh February 20, 2013 at 02:24 PM
At one time, principals were the administrators and the teachers were the front line. Everybody knew and loved their principals (unless they were called to their office for a good talking to). Being a principal was a little like being a pastor -- you were in it for the greater good, and hoped to retire from that job with at least a pat on the back and the knowledge that you did your best for the kids. Today, it's all political. Each school is just a stepping stone to the ultimate, dream world of superintendents like the Babe Ruth of "multi-dippers," Herb Levine. "Retired" means that you can come back as a consultant, or as an interim principal (even of the school from which you came!), and continue to bask in the sunshine of taxpayer funded pork. Being a "leader" means having handy excuses why your school stinks at MCAS or other standardized tests and working to make your boss, the "Super," look good on the books. Can't we just go back to looking at the most qualified internal candidates, promote them, and sign them to multi-year contracts so they at least need to WANT to be principal instead of the Great H.L.?
Kathleen February 22, 2013 at 04:02 AM
Saber, though I agree with you on the political comment, I don't quite see how you can assume that any of the candidates here are vying for anything more than a principal's position. Where does it mention anything about any of them wanting to be the next superintendent? I think that for once, the city has actually done the right thing here. They had a good amount of applicants for each position and have narrowed it down to three each, with a mix of internal candidates and newcomers. Seems like they are trying to promote from within if possible. I happen to think that Herb Levine was a great interim super for Peabody. He did more in a year to move the schools forward than the last two supers combined. He found funding for the schools that was sitting idle, admitted publicly that the districts MCAS & SAT scores were dismal and needed to be improved (no sugarcoating...) and laid out a plan to make improvements. Hopefully, the district will continue to move forward. I agree with you though that his consulting services aren't needed at this point. At least not to the tune of $5,000 a month while he is collecting a six figure pension. We have enough administrators. That salary could fund an additional teacher or reading/math specialist for one of our schools.
Mom February 22, 2013 at 01:02 PM
As a South School parent, I'm tired of seeing it stated that Maryellen McGrath retired in late Jan. she was SUPPOSED to retire end of Jan, but in her usual way, left early. On the Monday after the Dec 14th shootings in Ct, everyone came back to school looking for leadership. She was nowhere to be found. Just never came back. Never said goodbye to the kids or parents. Not in any way a leader...but never was. Terrible, terrible principal. She just cuts out early? Give me a break. For years she sat in her office doing nothing. Many parents said they didn't even know what she looked like, because she hid all day long. Now THAT was someone just waiting to ccllect her paycheck and could care less about the school or anyone in it! Kaitlyn Kennedy has done a great job stepping up, and most staff and patents are hoping she is appointed from within! She has been there long enough!
David MacDonald February 22, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Maybe they could take the 6 finalists, interview them individually, select the best 2, and assign them to the school best suited for their skill set? Instead of conducting individual searches for individual schools? The two best candidates may be both interviewing for the same school.
LK February 22, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Great idea, David! Especially since one of the mothers interviewing for the South School is a South School mom and has kids there. Impossible to be bias. She may be qualified, but better off at Carrol. Hopefully they know this.
David MacDonald February 22, 2013 at 03:52 PM
I don't know the candidates very well, I just don't understand why there are 2 seperate searches going on for 2 elementary principal positions, seems like double the effort.
S. Brown February 22, 2013 at 03:57 PM
I cannot speak to Mrs. McGrath as a principal....but she was one of the best teachers I ever had. She was kind, caring and dedicated to her profession. She was the perfect elementary school teacher. I still remember some of the lessons from her class! She brought warmth and comfort to that old, dungeon-esque Brown School. She was the model for what ALL teachers should aspire to be. Knowing this I find it VERY hard to believe that she "could care less about the school." Your comment sounds a bit like you have a personal issue with Mrs. McGrath; and you may not be thinking objectively as a result.
Mom February 23, 2013 at 02:12 PM
S Brown, you may have had her as a teacher 100 years ago, but considering you have no experience with her as a principal, your comments are irrelevant. I have never had contact/issue of any level with her. It is a fact that the South School parents regularly discuss. A lot of them. Do you know why? Well, unlike you, we are at the school and experienced her lack of leadership in a daily basis. Tons of parents. So while that's nice that she was a sweet teacher to you back in the day, unless you've experienced otherwise- in RECENT years- find another issue to comment on bc clearly this one doesn't involve you.
Mom February 23, 2013 at 02:20 PM
SBrown- any principal who leaves school one month ahead of scheduled retirement, 2 days after a MAJOR national school crisis, and never says goodbye to the kids is not a leader. Just never came back. Again...if patents within the school "didn't know who she was/ looked like", there is a MAJOR problem! Those are facts.
Mom February 23, 2013 at 02:20 PM
*parents.
Maureen Malionek February 24, 2013 at 05:29 PM
In Mrs. McGrath's defense, I believe she was already scheduled to be out for surgery. I was however shocked that she never came back to say goodbye to the kids!! We are looking forward to getting a new principal!! Can' t wait until they make a decision. I know who I would choose!!
S. Brown February 24, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I am probably young enough to be your son, "mom". so it wasn't 100 years ago. Ever think your condescending tone MAY have something to do with your lack of a relationship with Mrs. McGrath? If you approached me with the negative and aggressive tone that you are exhibiting here then I wouldn't give you the time of day either. You sound like a bitter old lady who wants the principal to wipe her kids' bum for them. Maybe you, and the rest of your gossiping soccer moms, should EDUCATE yourselves of what this woman has done for Peabody.....and then find someone else to bully. Typical over-involved helicopter parenting....I wouldn't even let you near my office let alone try to run my school. Get a life.
Mom February 25, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Aww. S.Brown. You don't know what you are talking about honey. There ...Is that tone better? Again, I am one of about 50 parents with the same complaint. Are we all wrong? Maybe having you as a student turned her into a bitter principal. Have a nice day.
John Castelluccio (Editor) February 25, 2013 at 06:59 PM
For the record, we did check with the Superintendent's office and as Maureen Malionek mentioned above, Maryellen McGrath did leave her post at the South School earlier in January than planned for her retirement due to medical reasons, i.e. surgery.
Mom February 25, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Yes, but her "surgery" was not for anything life threatening that required immediate attention. That being said, she could have scheduled her foot surgery a month later when she was retired. And to not come back to say goodbye to staff and students? Ridiculous and unprofessional.
Parent March 01, 2013 at 03:42 PM
I don't normally respond to these, but some of these comments are very unfair. First I will be honest that I was disappointed that Mrs.McGrath left without saying goodbye. But I feel like that is her only fault. It was a scheduled leave, and should not offset her reputation. She has stood by many students, encouraged and motivated them to do things academically and personal. If you do not know her, or even know what she looks like, perhaps you should have been more active in your childs education. If you ever attended a pto meeting, parent conference, winter concert, orientation she was present at most, if not all. Second, about the future principal you should not criticize the process if you don't know it. Applicants could apply for either school, or both. A panel was selected within the school and community to assist in selecting the final three. Again, if you have such a strong option you could have volunteered to be a part of the committee. And as far a the finalist with children in the school, don't you think a person would be more vested in the school if their children are a part of that community. Not everything has to have a negative view!
Mom March 02, 2013 at 01:36 PM
Dear Parent, Why then do many parents feel this way about Mrs. McGrath? Again, if you read the comments, I speak for a large group of people. And yes, I am quite involved in the school and attend ever single thing, so let's not suggest things of which you have no knowledge. She attended school events because that is what a principal SHOULD do...nothing extra. Ever. So while you may feel coming for an hour here or there was enough, there are many who disagree.
Mom March 02, 2013 at 01:53 PM
"committee"??? Did they know a committee member who picked a candidate based on being in their social circle? Perhaps a husband of a candidates bff? Come on, lets be honest here, bc it's not like it is an impartial parent group having input.
S. Brown March 03, 2013 at 03:28 AM
Actually, you CLAIM to speak for a large group of people. I see no proof of that statement and still believe you have a personal grudge against Mrs. McGrath.
S. Brown March 03, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Who are you to judge what surgery "requires immediate attention?" Her personal life is none of your business, she isn't an elected official and doesn't have to answer to people like you. If she went through the proper channels to retire when she did then you have no right to question her professionalism.
David MacDonald March 03, 2013 at 07:10 PM
So, how are things at the Carroll School?
Mom2 March 05, 2013 at 12:21 AM
The "committee" was offered to any parent at the South School, they were looking for 2 parents and only 2 parents offered their time, Did you 'Mom",? Why is this Comment page getting so nasty, Mrs. McGrath is gone, get over it and move on, if you and your Large group had so much to say, why didn't you when it mattered.
Mom2 March 05, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Your making South School sound so trashy, and it's far from that, it is a great neighborhood school, with great teachers.
Parent March 05, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Thanks Mom2, I am happy to see positive comments. As a community we should be trying to eliminate bullying. "Mom" and you group of 50 friends are not setting a very good example for our kids!
Sweet Brown March 05, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Ain't nobody got time for this!
Maureen Malionek March 06, 2013 at 03:08 PM
I love the South School. Great teachers...great kids...great parents. I really liked Mrs. McGrath. I found her very helpful and available for parents and students. The PTO and teachers really seemed to like her too. Was she perfect? No..no one is. I wish she had come back to say goodbye to the kids but I have no idea what is going on in her life and to be honest, my kids haven't mentioned it. (Side note...why am I the only one using my real name??)
Mom2 March 06, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Maureen Malionke I agree with you! Mrs. McGrath was helpful and if you needed to talk to her, she was their for you...Was she perfect ? No, but no one is...She did say good bye to her staff, her staff had a retirement party for her... and the year is not over yet, and I am sure she will be back...No one knows what her health situation is, so maybe we shouldnt assume anything....People should becareful before publicly bashing someones reputation, maybe her last couple of years wasn’t her best but does that erase all the good she did her WHOLE career? Denise C

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