WILMINGTON, MA – The Wilmington Middle School has found its next principal.
Amy Gerade, currently the Assistant Principal at Briscoe Middle School in Beverly, will take over for Interim Principal Ralph Olsen starting on July 1, 2015.
“I am confident that Mrs. Gerade has the experience, knowledge, skills, and disposition needed to be a very strong instruction leader for WMS,” wrote Superintendent of School’s Mary DeLai in an announcement to parents last night.
Gerade has been an Assistant Principal in Beverly for the past four years. Prior to that, she spent three years as a Social Studies teacher at Lawrence High, including a stint as Acting Interim Assistant Principal, where she was also the senior class advisor, volleyball coach, and Model UN team coach.
Gerade, who currently lives in Billerica, received her Bachelor’s from Ohio State (2011) and a Master’s in Education from UMass Amherst (2003). She is currently enrolled at UMass Lowell in a doctorate program for “leadership in schooling.”
Below are some highlights from her talk with parents during the ‘Meet The Candidates’ event on Thursday, March 12:
- Gerade discussed how she was a student who struggled. She was told she couldn’t go to college, but wound up becoming the first in her family to graduate from college.
- Gerade would leverage technology to communicate with parents and would follow district protocol in cases of emergency.
- Gerade stressed the importance that all teachers need to work on differentiated learning: “It can’t be stand-and-deliver or ‘here’s a worksheet’ anymore.” Need to engage every student in the classroom.
- Gerade would want technology integrated seamlessly into the classroom; need to support staff and provide them with the necessary training.
- Gerade stressed needing to be proactive in dealing with substance abuse, addressing it in the curriculum, partnering with the PTO to bring in speakers, and educating parents on identifying warning signs.
- Gerade is currently the lead scheduler at her school. She schedules each of her 950 students’ 6-block, 57-minute rotating schedule.
- Gerade would develop an understanding with her staff that taking calculated risks is OK. Need to give teachers the tools they need if you want them to change.
- Gerade “doesn’t mind” the early 7:20am start time here. “It allows you to do things on the other end,” noting she’s very impressed with the school’s extracurricular offerings.
- Gerade believes, first and foremost, the building needs to be safe. She would follow the handbook when delivering punishments. She’s a big believer in “progressive discipline.”
- Gerade stressed that students must “think before they send” when it comes to social media. “If I could blow up AskFM tomorrow, I would do that.” She notes that social media can be leveraged for good, however, if expectations are clear to students.
- Gerade discussed how her current school transitions 5thgraders into Grade 6. 5th graders actually have their first day of school a day before 7th and 8th graders, giving them a whole day to have the school to themselves.
- Gerade noted how it amazing it is to see the growth from the first time you have a conversation with a child in the first month of Grade 6 to the last time you have a conversation with them in the last month of Grade 8.
- Gerade stressed that teachers need to get to know their kids, both academically and socially/emotionally, to be pro-active and address issues before they become real problems.
Other finalists for the position included Dina Mancini, an Assistant Principal at Groton-Dunstable Middle School, and Linda Golden, an Assistant Principal at Collins Middle School in Salem.
“Amy is eager to start the transition process,” wrote DeLai, “so don’t be surprised to see her around the school at upcoming events in the weeks and months to come.”