Provost misses Athol superintendent job

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Published: 05/11/2022 21:36:06

Modified: 05/11/2022 21:34:27

ATHOL — Northampton Public Schools Superintendent John Provost has not been offered the top job in the Athol-Royalston Regional School District after an interview with the school committee on Wednesday night.

The committee unanimously chose Matt Ehrenworth, vice-principal of the Blackstone-Millville Regional School District. He will begin work on July 1, pending the outcome of contract negotiations.

Provost, who sat down for an in-person interview at the hybrid meeting held at Athol-Royalston Middle School, described his style as “servant leadership” focused on building community and “relational trust” in relationships. schools.

“I believe in improving schools for those who are underserved,” Provost said in his opening statement before taking questions.

On a recent visit to the district, he said, he spoke with employees at all levels who “felt they were on the verge of doing some really good things and that matches my Evaluation. … I would like to be part of the success story.

He spoke about the importance of social and emotional development, stress reduction and management strategies for struggling students, small group support systems “and a way to identify students for whom even this may not be enough”.

High-quality nutrition programs are essential, Provost said, because students “can be more focused on experiencing the hunger they have” rather than the learning environment.

The district should take an evidence-based approach to improving student engagement, he said, implementing the plan “with fidelity,” training staff well and making physical learning spaces as engaging as possible. .

“I believe that if a student is alive and in a classroom, learning is inevitable,” Provost said. “Sometimes they learn to avoid the tasks you give them. … It’s a kind of apprenticeship. The question is, how can we get them to learn what we really want them to learn? And it really is a question of motivation.

In response to questions, Provost spoke about his budget experience, improving schools in Northampton and the challenges he faced during his eight years as superintendent and overseeing facility repairs and renovations. . He described the district’s “masking” of job applications to conceal personal identifying factors that are irrelevant to choosing the best candidate.

Committee Chairman Mitchell Grosky read statements from Northampton School staff who praised Provost’s intelligence, collaborative approach to decision-making and availability around the clock to help solve problems, among other attributes such as contract negotiation skills.

“His only weakness is that he’s a Yankees fan,” read one response. “You won’t find a stronger superintendent than John Provost.”

“We were remarkably lucky to have him. Look at all he has done,” reads another reply. “How can we get him signed for another three years?”

The committee chose from four finalists: Provost; Ehrenworth; Cynthia Kennedy, director of district response and acceleration; and Marlene DiLeo, Superintendent of Ware Schools.

Athol-Royalston Superintendent Darcy Fernandes is leaving her job at the end of her current contract.

Provost’s contract with Northampton runs until June 2025 but can be terminated with notice. He has held the position since 2014; he was superintendent at North Brookfield from 2011 to 2014 and director of special services for Agawam Public Schools from 2003 to 2011.

Provost and DiLeo were both passed over for the superintendent job at Leicester last week. The Worcester County City School Board has selected Brett Kustigian, currently superintendent of Quaboag Regional Public Schools, to lead the district.

Brian Steele can be contacted at [email protected]

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