Falmouth schools need an innovative and forward-thinking leader to guide the district as its new superintendent, school board members were told at a recent community discussion.

Teachers, parents and others voiced spoke out at the Jan. 12 online forum on what the school board should be looking for in a candidate, what the district’s values and strengths are and what should be prioritized for Falmouth moving forward.

Gretchen McNulty, previously Falmouth’s Director of Learning, stepped in as interim superintendent when Geoff Bruno, who was the superintendent in Falmouth for seven years, left the post last July to become the superintendent of Scarborough schools. McNulty will only serve as interim for one year, according to School Board Chairperson Whitney Bruce, and a new superintendent is expected to take over July 1.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is a challenge not created by anyone, but something anyone who works in a public school deals with,” Falmouth High college counselor Ashley Pullen said. “We have a system that was built back in Industrial Revolution times and we have a generation of students going out in a world where they’ll have to work remotely, problem solve and work with people across the country. I think our model doesn’t always get at the skills our students will need to be successful today in our everchanging society.”

Falmouth fourth grade teacher Jennifer Merrifield also broached the importance of hiring someone who has “been in the trenches” and worked as a teacher in the past.

“There’s something to be said for people that have been a teacher before they move up to administration,” Merrifield said. “You have an appreciation of what we do here every day. That’s something that’s really important so when we come to administrators or the School Board, you have more of an understanding about what we’re experiencing.”

There will be more public forums and meetings for the community to meet with finalists and provide feedback, according to School Board Chairperson Whitney Bruce. Those dates will be made available through the town newsletter and the district’s website, falmouthschools.org.  A survey is also available where community members can submit their opinions on what qualities the candidate should possess and what issues are facing the school.

Applications will close on Jan. 31 and the school board hopes to have the new superintendent chosen by April 1. The School Board has also created a search committee, compromised of school staff, administration, a student representative and parents, who will help narrow down the pool of candidates.

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