BOSTON – Tuesday, June 21, 2022 – The Boston School Committee today announced the selection of candidates for the position of Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools (BPS), following the recommendation of the nine-member Search Committee. The remaining finalists will participate in a public interview process on Thursday, June 23 and Friday, June 24, which will include three community panels followed by a public interview by the Boston School Committee. (See full schedule below or click here.)
Scheduled for Thursday, June 23: Mary Skipper, Superintendent of Somerville Public Schools. Mary Skipper is in her seventh year as Superintendent of the Somerville Public Schools (SPS). She joined SPS in July of 2015 following an outstanding career at Boston Public Schools, and quickly made her mark in Somerville as an innovative and visionary thinker, a passionate advocate for all youth, and a strategic systems builder whose approach includes leveraging community resources to support students. Before going to Somerville, Superintendent Skipper was Network Superintendent of High Schools for BPS, where she oversaw 34 high schools serving approximately 19,500 students. During her time as Network Superintendent, Boston High Schools achieved the lowest drop-out and the highest graduation rates in BPS history. Among her most notable accomplishments while at BPS, Superintendent Skipper helped launch TechBoston Academy (TBA) as the founding Headmaster in 2002. Superintendent Skipper holds a Bachelor’s in English and Latin from Tufts University. She earned a Master’s in Education Policy from Harvard and a Master’s in Education Leadership from Columbia Teachers College. Superintendent Skipper and her husband Peter reside in Dorchester and have three children.
Scheduled for Friday, June 24: Dr. Tommy Welch, Region 1 School Superintendent (K-12), Boston Public Schools. As the Region 1 School Superintendent, Dr. Welch supports 15 schools, serving over 7,000 students across Charlestown, East Boston, and the North End: two high schools, 12 elementary schools, and an early education center. Dr. Welch’s service in urban education spans over two decades. His work prioritizes the improvement of the academic outcomes of students and connects leaders and resources within the network to provide a coherent instructional vision for all schools. Prior to coming to BPS in 2015, Dr. Welch was the founding principal of a middle school and later a high school in the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles. His classroom teaching experience focused on English learners and special education inclusion in the lower elementary grades, as well as English at the high school level. Dr. Welch is a graduate of Occidental College and the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2020, he earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership at Boston College. Dr. Welch lives in East Boston with his wife and is a parent of two BPS students.
Mayor Wu and Chair Jeri Robinson also asked the School Committee to formally designate Dr. Drew Echelson, Deputy Superintendent of Academics, as Acting Superintendent to cover the short window between Dr. Brenda Cassellius’ departure on June 30 and the next Superintendent’s first day on the job.
“Boston’s future is tied in every way to the success of our public schools and the health and well-being of our young people,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m excited to be at this final stage in our search process and so grateful to the Search Committee for leading a robust process that yielded a strong, diverse pool of candidates with a wide range of lived and professional experiences. I look forward to working hard alongside Drew Echelson, the BPS senior leadership team, school leaders, and school communities throughout this summer for a smooth transition into next school year.”
Dr. Echelson currently serves as the Deputy Superintendent of Academics where he leads the academics, schools and accountability divisions in BPS. In this role, he serves as the Chief Academic Officer, overseeing critical areas that require sustained, thoughtful reform to meet the needs of BPS students. Dr. Echelson was not a candidate for the Superintendent position.
“Boston Public Schools is a place full of talented students, incredible educators, and committed community members who are determined to see every child succeed,” said Brenda Cassellius. “I have come to know Drew as a highly capable and student-centered leader who brings empathy, trust, as the Deputy and will bring that same commitment and energy to his role as acting superintendent. We have laid a strong foundation these past three years, and having his steady hand guide the district until the next superintendent is named will help set forward a smooth transition.
The Superintendent search process began in March, when the nine-member Search Committee launched a series of public listening sessions and community stakeholder meetings. The community feedback voiced by students, families, educators, and other City partners was incorporated into the Superintendent’s job description and informed the Search Committee members’ interview questions. Beginning with 34 candidates, the Search Committee conducted private interviews throughout May and June. These included pre-recorded video responses, one round of interviews conducted via Zoom, and a second round conducted in-person. On Friday, June 16, the Search Committee conducted its final deliberations and voted to select a group of finalists for the School Committee’s consideration. Two candidates have since withdrawn from the process prior to the start of public interviews.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to the Superintendent Search Committee for its tremendous work in assessing candidates through a collaborative process, which included community voices from day one,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Jeri Robinson. “The district’s next leader must be ready to take on the challenges facing the district and share in our commitment to equity and inclusion, increasing academic achievement, and engaging deeply with all community members.”
The co-chairs of the Superintendent Search Committee are Dr. Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College; Lorena Lopera, Boston School Committee Member and a BPS parent; and Marcus McNeill, a Fenway High School student and youth leader.
“The Superintendent Search Committee has worked collaboratively and efficiently to identify a set of diverse, qualified candidates who deeply understand the issues facing BPS, as well as the tremendous potential of our students to excel.” said Eddinger. “These candidates are exceptional, strong leaders committed to equity and academic excellence.”
“We’ve reached a milestone that people have been anticipating for some time now,” said Lopera. “Community engagement has always been an essential part of the process and I look forward to continuing to hear from the public this week.”
“As a committee, our mission has always been centered first and foremost on the students we serve, and this week’s public panels will continue to foster inclusive community engagement,” said McNeill. “I’m thankful to everyone who took the time to share their feedback on the attributes, values, and experiences that they’d like to see in our next superintendent.”
The finalists will participate in public interviews on Thursday, June 23 and Friday, June 24. These panel interviews will be conducted remotely via Zoom, with live interpretation in nine languages, including ASL, and members of the public are invited to join. Panel questions will remain the same both days, and will be drawn from both the panelists and the previous public responses to the Superintendent Search Survey. Questions may also be chosen live from the Q&A function in Zoom.
• 10:30am-12:00pm: Community Partners
• 1:30-3:00pm: Educators and School Leaders
• 3:30-5:00pm: Students and Families
Each day will end with a public interview with the Boston School Committee. These interviews will be conducted in the School Committee chambers in the Bolling building and streamed on Zoom and on Boston City TV; members of the public are invited to join remotely.
• 5:30-7:30pm: Boston School Committee
Following the interviews, the School Committee will meet on Wednesday, June 29 at 5:00pm to vote on the candidate to offer the position of Superintendent of BPS and to approve Dr. Echelson as the Acting Superintendent.
Thursday, June 23: Panel discussions and interviews
(Via Zoom and livestreamed on Boston City TV)
Friday, June 24: Panel discussions and interviews
(Via Zoom and livestreamed on Boston City TV)
For the full interview schedule and more information about the search process, visit boston.gov/bps-search.