LENOX — The search for a new town schools superintendent is down to two finalists, both of whom are on deck for public interviews by the School Committee on Tuesday.
Chosen from an initial pool of 15 applicants to succeed interim Superintendent William Cameron, including three from Berkshire County and seven from elsewhere in Massachusetts, the finalists are:
• Beth Choquette, a Cheshire resident and principal of the Bridge Street School in Northampton since 2012. It’s one of the Hampshire County city’s three public elementary schools, with a student enrollment of 291.
Previously, she was principal of Stamford Elementary School in Vermont for six years. Concurrently, Choquette was co-founder, co-director, board president and instructor of the Windsor School of Music in North Adams from 2008-09. She taught music at the former Plunkett Elementary School in Adams from 2000-06 (now Hoosac Valley Elementary School).
In her application, Choquette wrote: “Given my experience and intense work on reopening schools in my current district with a focus on the health, safety, and well-being of our students, staff and families, I feel that I am prepared to lead the Lenox School District and provide teachers, students and families with the confidence and trust that they deserve while earning the respect and trust of the taxpayers of Lenox by leading with transparency and collaboration.”
She also stated: “Education is a basic human right. Eliminating injustices and removing barriers for all students must be at the core of a socially just, inclusive leader.”
• Marc J. Gosselin Jr., a resident of Allentown, Pa., and special education supervisor of the North Penn School District based in Lansdale, starting in 2019. Previously, he was curriculum supervisor and an elementary school principal in that district, beginning in 2015, and an elementary school principal in Philadelphia in 2014-2015.
“During my 20 years in education, I have been a passionate advocate for diverse learners and their rights to pursue meaningful education opportunities in inclusive learning environments,” Gosselin wrote in his application.
“I have led efforts to change organizational culture in the areas of equity and cultural competency in my roles in Philadelphia and the Poconos by developing relationships and discourse communities with diverse stakeholders and using this knowledge to enhance staff capacity by leading courageous conversations around race, religion, culture, sexual orientation and disabilities,” he added.
The Lenox School Committee will convene via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to interview Choquette, followed at 7 by Gosselin. The agenda lists deliberation on the candidates by the committee thereafter, meaning a decision could be possible Tuesday night.
The public meeting can be accessed by viewing the School Committee page under “local governance” at lenoxps.org.
Choquette has a doctorate in educational leadership from Boston College, earned last May. She has attended summer programs at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
She also holds certificates and degrees from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams (educational leadership), Michigan State University (in music performance) and the State University of New York-Potsdam (music performance).
She also holds Massachusetts certification in superintendency (preliminary).
Gosselin’s resume lists doctoral candidacy at the University of Pennsylvania, with coursework completed. He holds a master’s degree in Educational Administration and Leadership from Penn State University and a bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Hartford in Connecticut.
He was an elementary school teacher and administrative intern in the Stroudsburg (Pa.) School District from 2005-13 and served as a legislative intern for the Massachusetts House Committee on Education.
Gosselin is certified as a superintendent in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
There is no indication yet when either of the candidates, if chosen, could begin work in Lenox, though not later than July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. The search is on a fast track since Cameron, who remains a School Committee member in Pittsfield, is keen on resuming his previous retirement from school administration as soon as feasible.
He came on board in Lenox after Superintendent Kimberly Merrick resigned in October 2019, for personal reasons, after a 15-month tenure. She was being paid $130,000 for the first year of what would have been a three-year contract.
Cameron extended his initial per-diem, three day-a-week contract that would have ended June 30, after a previous search for a successor hit a dead end. That search yielded two finalists, but neither was chosen by the School Committee at a meeting in March, just as the coronavirus pandemic emerged full force in the U.S.
The salary range for the position now to be filled, listed as “competitive,” remains to be negotiated, said School Committee Chairman Robert Vaughan.
Lenox has had five superintendents, not including interims, since 2007. Typically, superintendent contracts run for three years, but school and town officials have voiced the hope for a longer commitment from the next district leader.