Peretz chosen principal of Hardy Elementary School

Kate Peretz
Kate Peretz

Katherine S. Peretz has accepted the position of principal of Hardy Elementary School, Superintedent Kathleen Bodie told the school's parents on Tuesday, March 27. Peretz will assume her responsibilities July 1.

In a news release, Bodie noted that Peretz’s record of accomplishment and focus fits well with the Hardy’s strengths and goals. “Kate Peretz is a highly capable leader who has the skills, focus, and experience to support the Hardy School community through this leadership transition and into its strong future,” she said.

Bodie also noted that the position drew very strong candidates. “Arlington Public Schools is attracting outstanding applicants to join our leadership team. I thank the members of the search committee for their discerning role in this process.

"All four finalists will be strong contributors to their school communities for years to come,” she said.

Parent questions try to tease differences among 3 Hardy finalists

YourArlington covered the pubic interviews with three finalists March 19 before about 45 people at the Hardy library. Responding conversationally were Alli Franke, assistant principal of the Capuano Early Childhood Center, Somerville Public Schools; Trelane Clark, assistant principal of the Newman Elementary School, Needham; and Kate Peretz), principal of the Oak Street Elementary School, Franklin. 

Many present submitted evaluations after each had her 30-minute turn. Bodie asked parents to order the three by rank. She told YourArlington that a decision would be made "soon."

Here is a summary of selected responses from each. The essence of parent questions are in bold:

Franke

Alli Franke"I know what I absolutely love," she said in her introduction. "The word 'community' really came through" during her full-day visit to Hardy.

Achieving equity: "Every child has equal access to education," in theory, while in practice, "fair isn't always equal."

The 3 Cs, which can have a number of definitions. One involves communication, collaboration and creation. Franke noted her experience in Newton with responsive classrooms, an approach used at Hardy.

Discipline: As an assistant principal, it's a task she "does," meting it out involves grasping opportunities to shape behavior. "What does it look like to give a little extra dose of attention to that child?"

Managing class size: "You always hope smaller, but it doesn't always work that way .... What has worked? I don't have an easy answer -- whole lot of money?" she offered, to some chuckles.

A story of inspiration about a student: After a long pause, she said, "When I could see I could teach a child to read .... that led to being a literacy specialist.

How much homework? "The right answer varies .... depends on the community .... What do you think?"

Staff oversight: 32 classroom teachers; 80 staff total.

Clark

With 21 years in education -- "I'm over the 20-year hump" -- it's "the only thing I have ever done .... This is my love, this is my heart."
What excited you (noting public- and private-school experience)?

Trelane Clark

The "constant," she said are the children. "They want love; they are excited about learning." she said she learned much from each child. None fits into one box.

Her style: She called herself a collaborative leader who tries to operate according to what is best for students. As to teachers, she said she wants them to grow their own skills. "I try to plant some seeds .... I consider myself very open, transparent.

Approach to children? "I try to come from a place of empathy.

Why Hardy? Clark said she is seeking to lead a K-5 school that has fewer than 500 students, one that is diverse, with "lots of different kinds of diversity."

She noted that several high school friends called Arlington a "pretty amazing district."

Philosophy about kids: She called her Hardy visit wonderful. "Music class was the best .... The teacher made me dance."

Students at risk: Needed is a broad picture of each student, and then the team brainstorms strategies.

Would you advocate for equipment? "When I work at a school," she said, "it becomes my school."

What will you get to do as principal that you can't do as an assistant? "Shape the vision of the school," she said, adding she is looking forward to interacting more with district personnel.

Discipline: Clark described differing approaches in Needham, depending on age. For kindergarten through second graders, students are encouraged to draw pictures of a situation that brought them to the office. She take a positive approach. She tells them, "I want to see again for a good reason."

Her five-year plan: She said her 10-year plan is to still be a principal. After that, she might work as consultant in professional development.

Peretz

In Franklin almost four years after having been in Acton 17, she said she is "longing to come back to a place that is a little more diverse, more urban." She would bring to Hardy background in emphasized social-emotional education as well as responsive classrooms.

How would you encourage diverse parents to be part of school? Through strong relationships and being open, Peretz said. "There are different ways to have visiting times in school, lots of ways to connect." She called the School Council a good way to work with parents. In the end, she said: "The parents need to answer this question themselves."

Her style? By establishing trust first via collective leadership. "I see myself as reflective," she said, giving an example of how she has learned through a missed opportunity. 

Seeking to revamp curriculum night in September, she wanted to create a series of workshops, and discussed with many how to proceed. What was missing? What parents wanted. "I would never do that again," she said, laughing.

Best social-emotional process? Carving out a common collaboration time with many involved as well as a classroom approach that result in students producing a portfolio of work. She noted she is working toward degree at William James College in Newton, focusing on social-emotional.

Structuring schedules: "We never have enough time, with so many directives from above." She said she created committees, which scheduled common times to meet.

How do you handle transitions (noting some at Hardy)? Peretz described adjusting to abrupt staff changes in Franklin, including working for a boss one day before a resignation. "I'm always up for a challenge," she said. "As much as I love children, I love working with adults, too."

Philosophy of technology: Her responses reflected comfort with media -- Chromebooks, smartboards, Google Docs -- but she put the matter in perspective: "We all struggle with the amount of screen time."

School Committee member Paul Schlichtman asked each for a view of teacher evaluations, philosophically and in practice:

Franke said because they have become more formalized in recent years, "I'm so glad I was an instructional coach" before going into administration.

Clark said: "Teachers are the lifeblood" of a school. "... [M]y goal is to support them."

Peretz said: "I think it's good a vehicle for conversations about our practice .... [H]ow did you know learning was taking place? An evaluation can feel scary, but it didn't have to be."

Background

Further background about the finalists:

-- Franke previously a literacy specialist in the Newton Public Schools and an instructional specialist for English language arts in the Marlborough Public Schools. She also worked for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as an education specialist in reading and language arts. Earlier in her career, she taught kindergarten and grade two in Boston and Los Angeles.

-- Clark was an academy leader at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in the Boston Public Schools for three years before her current position. From 2008 through 2013, she was the dean of curriculum and Instruction at Parkside Christian Academy/Cross Factor Academy. She taught grades one, two and five earlier in her career in both Massachusetts and the Washington, D.C., area.

-- Peretz was an elementary school assistant principal in the Franklin Public Schools. From 1997 through 2014, she was a classroom teacher for grades five and six at the McCarthy-Towne Elementary School in the Acton Public Schools. She also served as the coordinator of the Beginning Teacher Support Program for the Acton-Boxborough Regional Schools from 2008-2014.

Tiffany Back, an earlier Hardy finalist, accepted the offer in Wakefield to be the principal of the Greenwood Elementary School. 

The current Hardy principal, Kristin DeFrancisco, will become principal of the Gibbs School when it opens as a sixth-grade school, expected in September. She was named to lead Gibbs last April after moving up from teacher to principal of Hardy in 2013.


This news announcement was published Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, and updated March 20 as well as March 27.