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School Committee roundup: New principals named for Hopkins, Elmwood

by | Jun 6, 2023 | Education, Featured: Education

At Monday’s School Committee meeting, Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh announced several new hires in leadership positions.

Matt Cotter, currently assistant principal at Hopkins School, becomes principal there.

David Brauninger, currently an elementary school principal in Canton, takes on that position at Elmwood School.

Abigail Hanscom, the incoming director of student services, comes from that position in Westwood.

Ricardo “Ricky” Andrade, currently assistant athletic director in Needham, will become athletic director.

Cavanaugh said the district needs a new assistant principal at Hopkins School and will be working on filling that position.

“I am really proud of the hiring that we’ve done,” Cavanaugh said. “It feels like we’ve put people in there who are very highly qualified and eager to work here in Hopkinton.”

Mentoring positions approved

The School Committee approved a request for two stipends of $2,000 each to fund the positions of elementary mentoring coordinator and secondary mentoring coordinator.

Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey LaBroad, who made the request, said the teacher leader positions would work with his office to design, implement and support the work done to assist educators who are new to the teaching profession and/or new to Hopkinton.

The work would include overseeing new educator orientation, regular induction workshops and ongoing peer mentoring.

Funding for the positions would be from the Title IIA grant. If the position is maintained beyond fiscal year 2024, the stipends would be moved into the collective bargaining agreement with the Hopkinton Teachers Association.

“We know from research the induction you provide educators either new to the district or new to the work in the first one to three years can make or break their experience,” LaBroad said.

He noted that regionally and nationally, the teaching profession is experiencing a decline.

“We need to make sure we take care of those who will take that challenge,” LaBroad said.

He clarified that although the coordinators technically also could be mentors, their role is more to guide and lead the educators who are assisting the newcomers.

School Committee member Adam Munroe said research in his profession — nursing — shows the benefits of this type of support to attract and retain people to the field.

“It’s an investment in the future and that retention rate,” he said.

Superintendent Cavanaugh said there would be about 30 people starting as educators or moving to teach in the Hopkinton district this upcoming school year.

School Committee Chair Nancy Cavanaugh clarified that these individuals are not new hires, but rather replacements for people who have retired or left the district for other reasons.

Math summer enrichment stipends addressed

The School Committee approved LaBroad’s request for stipends of $500 each to fund Elementary Summer Math Enrichment educators. He explained the positions would oversee administration of a five-week virtual math enrichment program available to all students entering Grades 1-6.

The educators would report to the director of elementary mathematics and be responsible for program content design, student feedback and family communication.

The $500 stipend would be provided per grade level, with the preferred model being clustering into two groups: rising Grades 1-4 and rising Grades 5-6, LaBroad said.

About 600 students signed up for past sessions, he said.

The funding would be provided through a Title IV grant and moved into the HTA collective bargaining agreement if the stipends are maintained beyond FY24.

Chromebook lease OK’d

Other actions taken by the School Committee included approval of a lease with American Capital to provide students in Grades 2-8 with Chromebooks. Director of Finance Susan Rothermich said 1,100 units would be leased at a cost of $164,500 in the first year and $176,683 in the second and third years.

The items will be paid for within the district’s technology budget.

She explained that at the end of the lease, the district keeps 150 Chromebooks, and the rest must be returned.

Meeting schedule discussed

The committee spent additional time working out upcoming regular meeting dates as well as “listening sessions” for the public to ask questions and provide feedback about the proposed Elmwood School replacement.

The next meeting is on June 15, followed by July 6 and July 27, then Aug. 3 and a half-day workshop on Aug. 24. Thereafter, the committee generally keeps to a schedule of the first and third Thursday of the month with additional sessions added when necessary and during budget season.

Committee members also would like to meet with groups of people like senior citizens and parents of young children to talk about the Elmwood School replacement project. They agreed to hold online Zoom sessions on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. to reach residents who need more information or have concerns. Dates will be announced soon.

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