Superintendent Candidates Will Visit Watertown, Attend Public Forums

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Charlie Breitrose

The Phillips School, home to the Watertown Public Schools administrative offices.

Charlie Breitrose

The Phillips School, home to the Watertown Public Schools administrative offices.

With two finalists chosen for Watertown’s next superintendent, the School Committee is preparing a strategy for interviewing the candidates and a schedule of public forums. 

Wednesday night, School Committee Chairman John Portz formally announced the two finalists – Dr. Deanne Galdston, Assistant Superintendent of the Billerica Public Schools, and Dr. Arthur Unobskey, Assistant Superintendent in the Gloucester Public Schools (see their bios below).

The finalists selected from 12 candidates who were interviewed by the Superintendent Search Committee, said School Committee Vice Chair Kendra Foley, who chaired the Search Committee.

Each of the finalists will spend a day in Watertown, during which they will visit each of the five schools, speak with a Watertown High School student, meet the Town Manager and Town Auditor, and then have two public forums – one with teachers and staff in the afternoon and one with parents and community members in the evening.

“Candidates will come for pretty much the entire day – 12 hours – from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.,” Portz said.

Unobskey will be be in Watertown on March 2 and Galdston will visit on March 6. The Public Forum will at 6 p.m. followed by the School Committee interview of the candidate at 7:15 p.m. The location of the forum and School Committee interviews have not yet been determined, but Portz said he hopes to have it in a place where the meetings can be broadcast live on Watertown Cable.

The School Committee will gather input from people during the visits, and at the public forums. They may have surveys or feedback forms. Foley suggested there be an online survey so people who watch on TV can also participate.

The School Committee must figure out how to approach the interviews, said Glenn Koocher, of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, who has been hired as the superintendent search consultant.

“Sometimes School Committees show up with questions, sometimes there are scripted questions,” Koocher said.

Foley said she thinks the candidates should be asked similar questions to the one’s asked by the Search Committee.

“That way we are all on the same page,” Foley said.

Other School Committee members thought it would be important to have other questions because the candidates come in with different backgrounds.

Following the interviews, the School Committee wants to visit the districts where the candidates currently work.

Koocher said the School Committee should go in small groups and be discreet, because it can be a disruption for those districts if a large group comes in.

Portz said the School Committee will likely vote on their top candidate at the March 13 School Committee meeting. The vote would be to enter contract negotiations with the person, Koocher said. Another School Committee meeting would have to be scheduled afterward to approve a contract, if and when it is negotiated, Portz said.

The School Committee also released the following bios about the two finalists:

Dr. Deanne Galdston is the Assistant Superintendent of the Billerica Public Schools who has been committed to team work, collaboration, and building collective responsibility among stakeholders with shared purpose to see that educators and families do what is best for children.

A California native and graduate of Gonzaga University (Spokane, WA), she began her teaching career in San Jose and in the Bronx before moving to Boston and accepting a position as a Spanish Teacher in Billerica. She became the Foreign Language Coordinator prior to taking the position of Assistant Principal of Billerica High School. In 2009 she became the Humanities Coordinator (English Language Arts, Literacy, Foreign Languages and Social Studies and Literacy). She was named Assistant Superintendent in 2011. In her role, she is also the Title I Coordinator.

As a leader both inside and outside of her school community, she is the chair of the Billerica Substance Abuse Commission, and Vice Chair of the Billerica education foundation (Partners for Education). She co-Founded the Northeast Professional Educators Network, a 22-district collaboration that focuses on professional development for a ten discipline sphere of interest. Previously, she chaired the Merrimack Valley Curriculum Leaders Exchange.

She is particularly proud of her work building teams and collaborations both within her district and beyond.

Galdston earned a Master of Science degree from Fordham and an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. She is the parent of four children, all of whom are public school students and resides in Newton.

Dr. Arthur Unobskey has devoted his professional life to helping children develop the intellectual, artistic and athletic skills and passions that enable them to find their voices and impact others.

After getting his bachelor’s degree at Yale University in 1989 and his Masters in the Arts of Teaching at Brown University in 1991, he taught history and English in both urban and suburban schools for ten years in the Baltimore and Boston areas. While teaching, he became an administrator in Boston, serving as a Humanities Program Director at English High School. During this time, Unobskey co-founded a summer writing program called Summer Ink, which continues today, each summer serving a diverse group of one hundred and fifty students from Boston and the surrounding suburbs at Simmons College. At Summer Ink, students write responses to engaging activities in the arts, athletics and community exploration, and also learn how to craft longer, more polished pieces.

Ubonskey became a full-time administrator in 2001 as Director of Instruction, a principal, and assistant superintendent. He has developed teams of teachers, administrators and parents that focus on providing the instruction and resources that all students need to engage fully in challenging academic, artistic and athletic experiences. He developed the art, engineering and technology programs while principal in Concord from 2003 to 2009. After he returned to Boston to one of the district’s neediest middle schools in 2009, he lengthened his school’s instructional day and deepened academic and social-emotional supports to provide the nurture and rigor needed to make significant academic growth.

Since 2015, Unobskey has worked as Assistant Superintendent in Gloucester with administrators and teachers to re-vamp math at the middle school, science at the elementary school, and develop effective approaches to teaching English Language Learner students.

He has lived in Lexington since 1996 with his wife and two sons.

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