On July 12, in a public meeting of the Northampton School Committee, we learned that Dr. Jake Eberwein declined the offer to become Northampton’s interim superintendent. Based on what was shared, he declined due to a desire to continue his consulting work.
We are happy to announce that the committee unanimously voted to offer the position to Dr. Jannell Pearson-Campbell. We encourage everyone to watch the 30-minute recording of the vote and discussion that led up to it. It has its sobering, frustrating moments as well as some moments of brave vulnerability and grappling with how white supremacy was an underlying thread in the original vote and decision-making process. We thank Member Emily Serafy-Cox for requesting that the School Committee focus on anti-bias/anti-racist training at its next retreat, and we thank Vice Chair Gwen Agna for granting that request.
We are crossing our fingers that Dr. Pearson-Campbell accepts the position. In the meantime, though, we encourage the following:
- Community members to attend the School Committee’s open office hours, led by Vice Chair Gwen Agna the first Tuesday of each month at 4:00 p.m., to continue sharing reflections, needs, and other feedback on equity and healing in our district. Note that Gwen Agna communicates the locations of these sessions and related updates on her Instagram and can also be emailed for information. The next session will be held next Tuesday, July 19, at Hampshire Heights in front of apartment 19C (rescheduled from this week due to rain).
- The School Committee to:
- Confront and reflect on the interim superintendent hiring and decision-making process. The School Committee has verbally committed to shifting our district’s culture and operations to be grounded in restorative practices–this is an important moment to start doing that, at a leadership level. One idea is to invite the Collaborative Resolutions Group, which is respected across Massachusetts as an organization steeped in conflict resolution and restorative practices, to facilitate a listening session that includes the School Committee and interested community members.
- Add open office hours that fall outside of daytime work hours so that more community members are able to attend.
- Begin strategizing and planning ways to hear from and emphasize the voices of students, staff, and community members, particularly those of color, in the permanent search process to ascertain what people most need and want in a leader right now.
- In response to the district’s recent hiring of an outside group to analyze our poor track record of hiring and retaining teachers and staff of color, publicly release those findings and hold facilitated dialogues internally and with interested NPS stakeholders (community members, staff, students) about actions/solutions based on the findings.