Anderson Brings Countrywide Experience to Superintendent Search
NEW BEDFORD — The search for a new Superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools to replace Dr. Pia Durkin is coming to a close as public interviews with the four finalists for the job wrap up on Monday.
The School Committee continued the public interview process on Friday with Thomas Anderson after Wednesday's snowstorm-that-never-was forced them to reschedule their time with candidate Ana Riley.
Though he's served as the Superintendent of Randolph Public Schools since 2014, Anderson has experience that spans across the country.
From 2011-2014, Anderson was an Instructional Superintendent in the District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington D.C., and from 2010-2011 spent time in Illinois as the founding Principal and Executive Director of the Edison Learning Larry Hawkins Chicago International Charter School. Anderson was a Principal for Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland from 2006-2010, and before that started his career as a teacher in Montgomery and East Hartford, Connecticut.
“There is so much I feel that I can offer, but I also feel that there's so much that New Bedford has to offer,” Anderson said. “I think with my role in Randolph now along with my experience in Washington D.C and Chicago, it goes hand in hand here.”
Like they did with Dr. Robert Gerardi and Dr. Heather Larkin earlier in the week, the committee questioned Anderson on multiple topics related to the job. Topics spanned from Anderson's views on standardized testing and student discipline, to how he would effectively utilize the budget.
When asked about his view on standardized testing, Anderson says, “It's a very important test, but it's not the end all be all.”
“There's a role for standardized testing. It's a data point along the way,” Anderson explained. “How do we reduce the level of anxiety of how to go through that process, and how are we better training our students during regular lessons in the daytime to be able to do better in those environments. I want us to really not miss the opportunity to teach our students to have that grit and that drive to know that sometimes you're going to have to sit for the bar exam or take the GRE or an LSAT before you get there to be able to become a master of that setting.”
On the topic of student discipline, Anderson says the best way to go about it is by being proactive with both the teachers and students. He also says that doing a better job at supporting the teachers in the classroom to prevent further disruptive situations goes a long way.
“We still need to be asking ourselves, 'how do avoid this behavior in the future?' How are we supporting our teachers in the classroom to be able to be proactive in terms of being able to identify some of the signs before that behavior takes over?” Anderson said. “We need to do better at supporting the teachers in the room to be able to figure out what's going on before it happens, but also provide the other support systems, whether it be a counselor or social worker who participates and is able to share some strategies with the teacher or reach out to that student before it gets to that next level.”
The School Committee will host the final public interview with Ana Riley on Monday at Keith Middle School at 6:00 p.m.
The committee is scheduled to elect the new superintendent on March 26. Once selected, the new superintendent would begin their necessary duties on July 1.