Principal Hiring Process

March 23, 2020 - Announcing Underwood's New Principal...

Dear Underwood Community,

It has been a great pleasure working with the Underwood community on the principal search process. The Selection Advisory Committee did a terrific job and I am grateful for their commitment to finding a highly capable leader for the school. I am also appreciative of all of the Underwood staff and parents who participated in the finalist interview using Google Meet.  
 

I am delighted to announce that Suzie Talukdar, currently the principal of the Michael Driscoll School in Brookline, will be the next principal at Underwood. Throughout the search process, Suzie impressed us with her passion for excellent teaching, her commitment to developing a positive school culture, and her track record of community building. She has a proven capacity for leadership as a principal that has been defined by trust, collaboration and kindness.

When I was reviewing parent feedback from the finalist interview, I was struck by the comments from one Underwood parent: “I know Suzie from working in Brookline and she’s amazing. I can’t say enough good things about her work, her engaging personality and her thoughtfulness.” I can tell you that many other people I know in the Brookline Public Schools echo this sentiment. 

Suzie is also deeply committed to educational equity and is passionate about ensuring that schools are welcoming and inclusive for all. A highly regarded trainer of teachers and administrators, she has led professional development sessions for Newton educators for many years on the topic of race and achievement. 

Prior to her current position, Suzie was the METCO Director in Brookline and was the director of the Intercultural Center at Brandeis University. She began her career as a social studies teacher at Day Middle School. Suzie has a B.A. from Brandeis University, an M.A. from Boston University, and an Ed.D. from Boston College.

I want to recognize Elaine Harold and thank her for her calm and steady leadership over the course of the year. I know the transition with Suzie will be seamless.

Suzie is thrilled to join the Underwood community and to return to the district where she started her career.  She will officially join us on July 1.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools

March 13, 2020 - Candidate Visit Rescheduled

Dear Underwood Community:

While schools will be closed for at least another week, I believe it is important to finish the principal search as soon as possible. As a result, we have rescheduled the principal finalist day for next Wednesday, March 18. The schedule will be similar to what was planned for today. The Google Meet for parents/guardians with principal finalist Suzie Talukdar will be held at 1:30 p.m.

If you would like to join the Google Meet click: https://meet.google.com/rrm-jevm-qgg at 1:30 p.m. and follow the directions on your web-browser to join the Google Meet. You may also join by phone without video by calling: ‪+1 470-735-5861. Access PIN: ‪382 206 632#. If you run into difficulty joining on a computer, we recommend trying to join by phone.

Thank you so much for your flexibility as we complete this important search for the Underwood community.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

CANCELLED- March 11, 2020 - Virtual Candidate Visit 

 

Dear Underwood Community:

Given the communication I sent out earlier today, we will be making a change to the schedule on Friday for the principal finalist. Instead of gathering at Underwood at either 8:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m., we will have a virtual parent meeting with our Underwood principal candidate at 1:30 p.m.

If you would like to join the virtual parent meeting with our Underwood Principal candidate click: https://meet.google.com/rrm-jevm-qgg at 1:30 p.m. and follow the directions on your web-browser to join the Google Meet. You may also join by phone without video by calling:  ‪+1 470-735-5861. Access PIN: ‪382 206 632#. If you run into difficulty joining on a computer, we recommend trying to join by phone.

I’m very pleased to let you know that our principal finalist is Dr. Suzie Talukdar, currently principal of the Driscoll School in Brookline. Suzie was previously the METCO director in Brookline. She has extensive experience in leading professional development in the area of culturally proficient teaching. Suzie began her career as a social studies teacher at Day Middle School in Newton. She has a B.A. from Brandeis, an M.A. from Boston University and an Ed.D. from Boston College.

Thank you so much for your flexibility during this very unusual time.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

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March 6, 2020 - Candidate Site Visit Scheduled

Dear Underwood Community:

Last week, the Selection Advisory Committee, consisting of teachers, parents and administrators, interviewed additional candidates for the principal position. Earlier in the week, the semi-finalist round was held at Bowen. The semi-finalist round requires candidates to share their observations and reflections on a range of educational and leadership issues and scenarios.

After a careful review, I am delighted to let you know that we have a finalist candidate for the principal position. At this time, I am not able to disclose the name of the finalist candidate because the candidate has not yet had a chance to share the news with her school.

The final step in the process is for the candidate to spend Friday, March 13 at Underwood. The candidate will have the opportunity to meet with a range of stakeholders in the community including staff, parents/guardians, and Newton district and building administrators. We are offering two open meetings for parents/guardians to meet the candidate—one at 8:30 a.m. and one at 5:30 p.m.

Those who attend these sessions will have the opportunity to hear about the candidate’s vision for the school and to ask questions. While we only have one finalist at this time, the candidate will be measured against the same high standards that we have for all the principal candidates in Newton. Please know that we also had just one finalist in the most recent principal searches that we concluded.

I will share the name of the candidate next week. I hope to see you on March 13 as we work to conclude the principal search process at Underwood.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

January 31, 2020 - Continuing the Search

 

Dear Underwood Community,

I’m writing to give you an update on the principal search. Over the past couple weeks, it has been a pleasure working with the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) on the search. The SAC, consisting of teachers, parents, and administrators, worked thoroughly to interview candidates and select semi-finalists. The SAC interviewed five candidates and moved three of them to the semi-final round. On Monday, each of the semi-finalists visited classrooms at Bowen, where they were asked to share their observations and reflections on a range of educational and leadership issues and scenarios.

After a thorough review of the candidacies of the three semi-finalists, and consulting with the SAC, we have decided to continue the search for a permanent principal at Underwood. While this was not an easy decision, we are committed to finding the best match for Underwood and remain confident that we will find a principal for next year. Please know that just two years ago, we made the same decision at another elementary school in Newton and we were able to identify a terrific candidate.

We are already re-advertising for the position and will provide an updated calendar for the search after the February break. I look forward to continuing work with a thoughtful and reflective Selection Advisory Committee as we proceed. 

Thank you very much for your understanding, and I will certainly keep you informed as we proceed.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

January 6th - Selection Advisory Committee & Small Group Roundtable Members

The Underwood Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) has met and will be interviewing candidates for our next Underwood principal on January 21st & 23rd. Two parent volunteers are participating along with Underwood School and NPS staff. The parent volunteers on the SAC are Laura Goldworm, Margaret Battat Silva, and Julie Lane.

In case you missed Dr. Fleishman’s visits about the new principal search, click here to view the presentation outlining the process, including key dates and a description of the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC).

Parent input into the process is encouraged. All current Underwood parents/guardians can share their thoughts in the following ways:

  • Complete the 2019 Underwood parent survey. Parent input from this survey will be used in the selection process and will be shared with the new principal.
  • Attend the meetings with the finalists on Feb. 5 and 7 (time TBD)

A small group of parent volunteers will also participate, separately, in a roundtable discussion with the finalist candidates. These parent volunteers are Lucia Kamm, Laura Goldworm, Margaret Battat Silva, Erika Holmberg, Kerry Curran, Nefertiti Borders, Julie Lane, and Elisa Rodriguez.

December 17th - Application for Selection Advisory Committee & Small Group Meeting

We welcome your interest in serving as a parent/guardian representative on the 2019-2020 Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) and/or participating in potential small group roundtable meetings with finalists as part of the search for a new Underwood School Principal. All applications submitted by current Underwood School parents/guardians will be considered. In addition, all Underwood parents/guardians can provide input to the selection process by completing the 2019 Underwood Parent Survey.

The Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) is a panel of NPS administrators, teachers, and parents who will engage in candidate interviews and help to select semi-finalist for the principal position. Participation in the SAC (3 parent slots are available) requires your availability on the following days: 

  • Tuesday, January 14 for 1-2 hours in the afternoon - Develop interview questions and review resumes 
  • Tuesday, January 21 (afternoon) and Thursday, January 23 (all day) - Interview candidates and select finalists 
  • February 5th and 7th - Finalists will visit Underwood and will participate in small group roundtable discussions with both parents and staff.  We are seeking parent volunteers to commit to participate in the open meetings. These will likely occur at either 9:30am or 5pm on both Feb. 5 & 7. If you are volunteering for this role, please indicate which time works better for you below. 

Please submit your application, below, to the PTO by December 31st.  The PTO Executive Committee (Anne-Marie Gravel, Jen Tsuda, and Erika Holmberg) will be meeting January 2nd to review the applications. Applicants will be notified of their selection before January 6th.

APPLICATION PROCESS - CLOSED

December 17th - Parent Participation Request

Last week, Underwood parents met with David Fleishman, the Superintendent of Newton Public Schools, and Khita Pottinger-Johnson, the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, to learn about the search for a new Principal at Underwood.  If you missed it, a 5-minute video of that presentation can be found here: https://youtu.be/D86FX65pMPE and the Superintendent's follow-up email is forwarded below as well. 

To move this process forward, there are 3 ways that you can help.

  1. Survey: Please take 5 minutes to complete the survey to help inform the selection process: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZGQYLTW. We want to hear from as many parents as possible to ensure that the survey represents our entire school community.
  2. Selection Advisory Committee: Please consider volunteering for the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC). The PTO will select three people by January 6th to serve on the SAC who are representative of our diverse community. 
    • Please complete the form above and write a brief statement of why you would like to serve on the SAC and submit online by December 31st. 
    • NOTE: Applicants for the SAC must be available on both the January and February dates below.
  3. Small Group Roundtable: As an alternative to the SAC, we are soliciting volunteers to participate in small group roundtable discussions with the finalists on the days when they visit Underwood in February.  
    • Please complete the form above and write a brief statement about why you would like to participate in the round table discussions. 
    • NOTE: Applicants must be available for the February dates only.

Key Dates

  • December 31st - Submit parent participation application to PTO
  • January 6th - PTO notifies HR of Selection Advisory Committee volunteers
  • January 14th - meeting of SAC to generate interview questions and review resumes
  • January 21st (afternoon) and 23rd (full day) - SAC interviews semi-finalists
  • February 5th and 7th - Round table discussion with finalists at Underwood

December 13th - Underwood Parent Survey

Your help is needed in gathering input and feedback. Superintendent Fleishman is very interested in gathering as much input as possible from the Underwood community as we begin the principal search. Please complete the following online survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZGQYLTW. As mentioned at the parent meeting, the information gleaned from the surveys will not only be valuable during the search process, but will be an excellent resource for the new principal.

December 13th - Letter from Superintendent David Fleishman

Dear Underwood Families:

Earlier this week, we held two productive meetings regarding the principal search. I appreciated the thoughtful questions that were asked and greatly value the engagement of the Underwood community.

A videotaped version of the presentation can be viewed by selecting the following:  https://youtu.be/D86FX65pMPE.

I am very interested in gathering as much input as possible from the Underwood community as we begin the principal search. Please complete the following online survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZGQYLTW. As I mentioned at the parent meeting, the information gleaned from the surveys will not only be valuable during the search process, but will be an excellent resource for the new principal.

Please note that parents can participate in the search process both through the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC), and during the finalist days, when the candidates will spend a good part of the day at Underwood. The finalist visits will take place on February 5 and 7, 2020.

We are deeply committed to hiring an excellent leader for Underwood and plan to devote significant time to this task in the coming weeks. I will be sure to keep you updated and look forward to working with the Underwood community as we begin this very important process.

Sincerely,​​​​​​​

David Fleishman
Superintendent

December 13th - Video Summary of Information Session

 

Dec. 10th & 11th - Principal Hiring Process - Information Session

Please come out to an information session to learn about the steps of the principal search & how you can be involved. We have a morning and an evening session (each will provide the same information), please join us at either session that fits your schedule.

Session 1: December 10th at 8:30am (multi purpose room, basement)
Session 2: December 11th at 7pm (gymnasium)

Contact us with any questions at underwoodpto@gmail.com.