By Katina Caraganis
AYER -- The Ayer Shirley Regional School Committee finished its fourth of four interviews for a new superintendent, and is slated to vote on their preferred candidate at its meeting next week.
Dr. Mary Malone, the assistant superintendent for the Haverhill Public Schools, spent the day Friday touring the district, and spent nearly two hours fielding questions from the School Committee at night.
One of the things she prides herself on, she said, is actively engaging with students and staff throughout the day, and she said she would be extremely visible in all of the schools.
"If you're going to be an instructional leader, your staff needs to see you doing those kind of exercises," she said, which includes blocking off time every day or every few days to walk through classrooms and see what students are working on.
She said people in her current school district were pleased with the members of the Ayer Shirley School Committee, saying their "educational knowledge" was firm and their dedication to the student body was evident.
"In order to reach goals we have to be innovative and look at changes and expand programming. I need the School Committee behind me," she responded when asked about what she saw her relationship with the committee looking like.
She said her expectation would be that she has the "full support" of the School Committee.
If chosen for the job, she said, her first priorities would be immersing herself in both communities and learning the needs and goals of both districts.
When asked how she would measure her success at the end of her three-year contract if she was offered the position, she said she would look at whether she was strengthening the partnership between the two communities, increasing enrollment numbers at the high school, increasing revenues while decreasing expenditures and "making sure students are working at a high level."
At the end of her interview with the School Committee, she said during her time in the district, she felt "comfortable," which reaffirmed her decision to apply for the job.
"I've been really comfortable here. I believe I'm well positioned to be the next superintendent," she said. "I have passion and energy. I really think I can make a difference in this district. I understand you have your challenges."
However, she said, those challenges were not enough to deter her from applying for the position, and she said she was walking away from her interview knowing that the Ayer Shirley district is where she wants to be.
"Today reaffirmed for me that my values are aligned with your core values and it reaffirmed my decision to apply for the superintendent position here," she said.