SOUTHBRIDGE — “Back to school” time is quickly approaching with grades one through twelve in Southbridge reporting to school Monday, August 27. Kindergarten students arrive for the first day of school later in the week, Thursday, August 30.  The new year brings several personnel changes in the schools at the administrative level due to departures, promotions and other structural changes that occurred during the previous academic year.

Receiver Jeffrey Villar chose earlier this year to create a new model for leadership at the middle and high school building, which utilizes a “triad” leadership structure. Both the high school and the middle school will have a principal who is in charge of teaching, learning, culture and climate. A third professional will be the director of operations for the combined campus of the two schools, leading business and operations and combined interests of the two schools. Each of these positions will be held by new employees when school opens on Monday.

The Southbridge High School principal position was vacated by Dr. Andrae Townsel earlier this year and Rebecca Sweetman gave notice from her position as principal of Southbridge Middle School at the end of the last academic year. The Director of Operations is a new position.

Elizabeth Craun has been hired into this newly formed operations position. She has a background in both civil engineering and education. She previously worked at the Capitol Region Education Council of Connecticut as a program manager in the construction division, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Patrick Danby has been selected as the principal of Southbridge High School. He was an assistant principal at the school when Townsel left. Danby acted as the interim principal before his appointment as principal.

Carol Keenan has been hired as the principal for Southbridge Middle School. She has more than thirty years of experience in education and most recently serves as the assistant superintendent in the Malden school system. Keenan has taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels and also has previous experience as a principal.

Kathleen Seifert has been promoted to the position of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Specialist. Seifert was the principal of West Street School before her promotion and she is now helping to lead the improvement of instruction in elementary schools district-wide.  Families may know Seifert by her previous name, Kathleen Cadarette, as she married and changed her name during the 2017 – 2018 school year.

Replacing Seifert as principal of West Street School is Liz Merchant, who is new to the district. She was previously an instructional coach in Worcester. Also joining the district is Desiree Chumsantivut. Chumsantivut will be the principal of Southbridge Academy. She previously worked in the private sector and has a strong background in psychology.

Dr. Jose Ortiz has been hired as the Senior Director of Curriculum and Language Development. He comes to the district from New London, Connecticut, where he worked at a dual language public school. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has a Ph.D. from The University of Connecticut and he did his undergrad work at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Puerto Rico. Ortiz will oversee the dual language program and the English for speakers of other languages program. He will also be involved in curriculum and instruction throughout the district.

The calendar for the 2018 – 2019 school year is available at the Southbridge Public Schools website in English and in Spanish (click here/haga clic aquí).

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