ORLEANS — Pending contract negotiations, Nashoba Regional School District Superintendent Brooke Clenchy will serve as interim superintendent of the Nauset Regional School District for the 2021-22 school year. She has extensive experience as superintendent of several other systems and was one of two senior associate commissioners of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
Clenchy was one of three finalists interviewed April 12 by Nauset's joint school committee, which includes members of the regional committee and of Union 54, which represents the elementary school committees in the four Nauset towns. The former was split 5-4 in favor of Clenchy while Union 54 was unanimous in its support for her.
Clenchy would take over for Nauset Superintendent Tom Conrad, who is retiring in June, and could apply for the permanent position if she chooses. A search for Conrad’s permanent successor will begin in the fall.
At the joint school committee meeting Monday, Clenchy and the two other finalists, Chariho (R.I.) Regional School District Assistant Superintendent Jane Daley and Uxbridge Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Tiano answered a series of questions that each received 15 minutes before their interviews. A poll of members found support for all three candidates, which led to a discussion of how their particular qualities best suited the position.
The regional committee’s vice chair, Judith Schumacher, was a strong voice for Clenchy. “She ticked all the boxes,” she said. “I think we’re looking for regional experience. She inherited a central office where there were all new people and she built it up (Nauset will have new positions, and new hires in existing roles, in its central office). Her communication style was really important. She came across as just a very genuine person. She makes people feel comfortable, yet you know she’s in charge.”
Schumacher noted that Clenchy has “direct” experience with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), “is familiar with school choice, has experience working with and mentoring principals...and has also worked with DESE. She is a really strong package.”
On the motion to offer the job to Clenchy, regional committee members Ed Brookshire, Tom Fitzgibbons, Steve Leibowitz, and Richard Stewart voted no. Stewart’s first choice was Daly, whose regional district is named for three towns in Rhode Island. He cited her service there as interim superintendent when it fell to her to decide, in the early days of the pandemic, whether to allow a long-planned visit by Chinese students from a school about an hour from Wuhan. “She had to make that decision (knowing) that powerful people in her region would be opposed (to canceling),” he said. “She didn’t seem to flinch.”
Fitzgibbons said he was impressed with Daly’s “comprehensive knowledge of the whole job” and that she was “extremely well prepared” for the interview. Leibowitz said Daly was his first choice for her “broad experience” and involvement with an innovation schools program in her region’s elementary schools.
Gail Briere, who chaired the search committee and is chair of Union 54, was among those who ranked Tiano tops. “I was impressed by him because of the specificity in his answers,” she said. “He provided some real examples for us to follow. I thought he was very reflective… honest and transparent… I liked his connection with kids. He went into the classrooms.” Joint school committee chair Judy Lindahal, also vice chair of the Eastham School Committee, said she was impressed that Tiano does a week-long residency in each school building. Noting that he was a teacher who rose through the ranks, she said, “He reminded me of someone we have in the position now.”
Regional committee member John O’Reilly said he had scored Daly “a little bit better” on her interview answers than Clenchy, who was “a very close second.” He made the motion to offer the job to Clenchy. “After listening to comments about Brooke from my fellow regional members and Union 54,” he said, “I am very comfortable with Brooke.”
All the candidates were asked who or what had inspired them in their careers, and Clenchy’s response landed with many. “The first inspiration for me was my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Moore,” she said. “I can tell you her fragrance. I can see her smile, feel her energy. She was the first person who said, ‘Brooke, you take this little group of students over here, and I want you to work them on this.’ That initial inspiration has driven me all those years later.” Clenchy also cited the “daily” inspiration of her staff, communities, and students.
The Nashoba district, which includes Bolton, Lancaster, and Stow, was to appear this week before the MSBA to move a building project to the feasibility stage. “I have walked in your steps,” Clenchy said of Nauset’s recently-approved $132 million high school reconstruction project. “I know how much is ahead.”
Clenchy has led Nashoba since 2016. Her work at DESE, from 2014 to 2016, involved a focus on teaching, learning, and program development. Other work experience includes superintendencies in Ashland (2012-14) and Winchendon (2008-12) as well as a district in Washburn, Maine (2003-07). Prior to that, she led and taught in schools in Canada. She holds a masters degree of arts in educational administration/curriculum from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.
Lindahl, Briere, and regional committee chair Chris Easley will negotiate a one-year contract for Clenchy’s services.