August 2, 2018
Dear John R. Briggs Staff and Parents:
I have completed a review of the 28 JRB Principal applicants. I interviewed several candidates and chose a retired principal from a terrific community. After I made the offer, the candidate accepted, but was traveling and offered to meet with me this week (10 days later), only to inform me the evening before the interim contract signing that he was taking another position. In all, very disappointing. While one would think that with 28 applicants it would be easy to find a qualified candidate, however, the quality of the candidates was not up to my level of expectations or satisfaction.
In the review of the remaining candidates and the need to move the school and district forward for the needs and betterment of the children and the staff, I have taken an immense amount of time reflecting and thinking about what is the best way to minimize the disruption that the recent events have caused. While at the time I felt that an interim principal appointment was in the best interest of the school and district, in talking to my superintendent colleagues in the Central Massachusetts region about the lack of qualified candidates, both interim and permanent, I decided to change my course of action and look for a permanent replacement to ensure that we can have a smooth transition to the school year, learn and grow from new school leadership, work to begin to deal with the loss that we all are feeling, and better utilize time (an entire year) to begin anew.
Under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71, the Superintendent of a school district has the direct authority to appoint principals. There are no required actions to hire a principal, only Superintendent discretion. While many, not all, would implement varied search processes, the present situation, which currently has no qualified interim principals, a three (3) week window to school starting, and the need for a fresh start, has resulted in a unique opportunity to hire an experienced candidate that while currently employed in a neighboring district, applied for the position, interviewed with me, and accepted an offer to be the Principal.
I ask for your support for Mr. Nathaniel North, who comes with classroom teaching experience, and experience as a middle and elementary school principal, and an impressive track record of strong school leadership. He lives locally, loves the communities of Ashburnham and Westminster, and will work tirelessly for the children, staff, and parents of the school district. While a start date within the next 2 weeks is still being negotiated, as this has been an extreme loss to his current school district, Mr. North will be available to meet parents and youngsters at Ashburnham’s Annual Sneak Peek, to be held on the afternoon of August 23rd and the morning of August 24th. Mr. North will also be available to meet staff, prior to the start of school, at a date and time to be determined and communicated to you.
In closing, I only make decisions based on the needs of the children and staff in our quest for excellence! I am confident that you will all experience another great school year full of challenge and growth for all.
Dr. Gary F. Mazzola, Superintendent of Schools