GROTON -- In the first of three interviews with finalists for a position as superintendent, members of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee learned that one of candidate Ann Bradshaw's chief goals was to convince her staff and the public that they were in it together.
"We're all a group," Bradshaw told committee members who met with her on the evening of Jan. 4.
Bradshaw said that if hired, the first thing she would do is to meet with parents and the School Committee to develop working relationships with both in order to "build trust."
From there, she said she would do what she had done elsewhere, issue a weekly newsletter to staff members keeping them informed and up to date on what was happening in her office.
"They should know what is going on in the district from me first before they hear it in the supermarket," said Bradshaw.
The first of three finalists chosen by a special Screening Committee, Bradshaw was to be followed by Marie Galinski on the evening of Jan. 7 and Maureen Ward on Jan. 8.
Superintendent in the Mashpee school system since 2005, Bradshaw attended Fitchburg and Bridgewater State Colleges and began her career in education as a teacher in Falmouth public schools.
A resident of East Falmouth, in her capacity as superintendent, Bradshaw concentrated on a number of areas of concern to the Groton-Dunstable School Committee, including integration of technology into curriculum, communication with the public, and budgeting.
With six of seven members of the School Committee present at the Jan. 4 interview session, Bradshaw was peppered with numerous questions ranging from curriculum to technology.
One of the top issues that school officials must face each year is that of the budget, with difficult decisions needing to be made in each of the last several years.
In formulating a budget, Bradshaw said she would first look at a five-year average for fixed costs, take into account class size, and then work with her staff as a team in setting priorities.
Bradshaw said her aim would be to take state aid into account and cut if necessary, while always keeping in sight maintenance of the district's core curriculum and programs.
Beyond the formulation process will be public relations and in answer to a question regarding how to sell the budget to the public, the candidate said she would set it in a format that could be understood by anyone and then begin a round of meetings with the public and town officials to explain the details.
"I'll try hard to make it as transparent as possible," said Bradshaw of the process. "I'll try hard to make a lot of opportunities for everyone to get aboard."
On the issue of curriculum, Bradshaw insisted on creating a course of study that would challenge all students.
When challenges were issued, Bradshaw told committee members, she found that students usually rose to the occasion.
Bradshaw also expressed support for students' emotional needs as well as their academic ones, saying that good counseling in schools was "very important."
In recent weeks, school officials have been pushing for more technology within the classroom and when the matter was put to her, Bradshaw, while admitting students likely knew more about the subject than she did, suggested a three- to five-year plan for full integration of technology such as computers and video into the district.
Bradshaw said suggestions for use of technology in the schools often come from faculty and staff and that she would welcome and support any such suggestions.
Calling the arts a "critical part of the curriculum," Bradshaw also described what "good teaching looks like:" teachers who connect with their students, students who are at ease in a classroom environment, and classrooms with activity going on in them.
Evidence of student progress would be measured by testing as well as graduates' success in getting into the colleges of their choice.
But due to recent experience, committee members were concerned about the ability of a new superintendent to reach out to the public on issues dealing with the school system.
"One thing I would like to do is be out in the world," assured Bradshaw, saying she intended to attend student activities and meet with parent groups. "I will be very accessible and over time hope to build relationships."
That was the point where the candidate expressed her belief that every constituency involved in education, including district employees, town officials, and the public, needed to feel that they were part of a team effort.
Finally, the candidate assured committee members that if hired, she intended to make a long-term commitment to the district and even move to the area from East Falmouth.