Supt. Candidate to Utilize Urban & Suburban Experience, If Hired
NEW BEDFORD — The School Committee is ready to elect the newest Superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools.
With public interviews of the four final candidates for the job complete, the committee is scheduled to elect the new superintendent this Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Once elected, the new superintendent would begin their necessary duties on July 1.
The public interview process wrapped up on Monday, when the committee held its final interview with Ana Riley at Keith Middle School. Riley was originally scheduled to be interviewed on March 21 until a snowstorm-that-never-was caused it to be rescheduled.
Riley has over 15 years of administrative experience in both urban and suburban settings. She's currently the Superintendent of Schools in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, a position she's held since 2014. Before that, she was the Superintendent of Dartmouth Public Schools (DPS) from 2011-2014, and from 2008-2011 served as the Assistant Superintendent of DPS. From 2003-2008, Riley was the Principal at an elementary school and a middle school in Fall River after serving that district as an Assistant Principal. Prior to working at an administrative position, Riley began her career as a science teacher for Fall River Public Schools.
Riley has also completed coursework towards an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, and toward a Certificate of Advanced Educational Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“When I saw the position of Superintendent open in New Bedford I got really excited, because I wanted to come back to do urban work. I really miss the opportunity to have the impact that you can have in an urban district.” Riley said. “I really think that I can be a match for you, and really think that there are ways that we can work together.”
As they did with the other three candidates, the committee questioned Riley on a number of topics related to the job and her educational philosophies. Topics ranged from her views on student discipline and standardized testing, to how to fix the district's teacher retention rate.
When it comes to teacher retention, Riley says, “Consistent leadership helps to provide for consistency among staff.”
“As a leader develops the culture and works with the staff you create, together, the kind of community that you want to spend time with. So we have to create cultures that people want to be a part of, but to do that they have to be a part of creating that culture,” Riley said. “When you have a community where people feel like they belong and they're contributors, and they're meeting with success and feel connected, then they want to stay and they want to keep growing to see the success of that school happen.”
Riley was also asked about her views on student discipline and using alternative settings for students with behavioral issues. She argues that, “nothing gets resolved and nothing gets fixed” if a school uses detentions, suspensions, or time away from the classroom as a means of discipline.
“When that's your system for dealing with disrespect or defiance, or whatever it is that's occurring in the classroom then nothing gets resolved and nothing gets fixed,” Riley explained. “We can't just show back up in the classroom the next day without addressing what happened the day before, we have to get at to the root cause of what's happening. Sometimes it's a quick and easy fix, and sometimes its much deeper where students identify where they feel targeted or they feel like they're drowning and they don't know how to recoup in that classroom.”
Last week, the School Committee held public interviews with Dr. Robert Gerardi, Dr. Heather Larkin, and Thomas Anderson.