School Committee Names Christopher Malone New Superintendent of Schools
Jan 14, 2016 11:01PM
By Rick Spencer
Tewksbury School Committee members (l to r) Jayne Miller, Dennis Francis, Krissy Polimeno, Jamie Cutelis and Brian Dick
Danvers resident Christopher Malone will have big shoes to fill when he replaces retiring Superintendent of Schools Dr. John O’Connor at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, but if you ask the Tewksbury School Committee, Malone is more than up to the task.
The school committee on Thursday night selected Malone, who currently serves as Assistant Superintendent of the Revere Public School District, as the man who will replace O’Connor, by a unanimous vote.
“He has a dynamic personality, he is a go-getter and things will get done,” said school committee member Dennis Francis, who made the motion to select Malone from a field of four finalists who the committee interviewed this week. “I had the pleasure of accompanying him on his tour of our district this week, and his interaction with the staff was incredible. And when you sit down and talk to him, he is well rounded in all phases. I mean, he’s ready for this position.”
Malone was one of four finalists that the committee interviewed this week, beginning with Thomas Martellone, principal of the Fiske Elementary School in Lexington, on Monday night. On Tuesday the committee met with North Andover High School Principal Carla Scuzzarella and on Wednesday it was Malone’s turn.
On Thursday, Patricia White-Lambright, Asst. Superintendent of the Melrose Public School District, toured the Tewksbury district and was interviewed by the committee for 45 minutes in the Tewksbury Memorial High School library Thursday evening.
After concluding the interview with White-Lambright, the committee deliberated for less than 20 minutes before voting unanimously to offer the job to Malone.
Malone, a life-long Massachusetts resident who grew up on the North Shore and still lives there now, received his bachelor’s degree from Suffolk University and then served four years in the U.S. Army, during which time he was stationed in Korea, Honduras and Panama. He received his Masters in Education from UMass-Lowell and also earned a Certificate of Graduate Studies from Salem State University.
Malone has worked in the Revere Public School system since 1995, where he was originally hired as a student services specialist, dealing primarily with gang problems in the city. From there he became an assistant principal at Revere High School, then principal of a middle school in Revere, before being named Asst. Superintendent under Dr. Paul Dakin five years ago.
Malone comes from a school district that serves twice as many students (7800) as does Tewksbury (3800), and his experience in a larger school system should serve him well in Tewksbury, according to several school committee members. He has been involved in the construction of five new school buildings in Revere, and helped Revere serve as a developmental test site for the new Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests that the Massachusetts Department of Educational Services (DESC) voted to adopt to replace the MCAS tests in November.
“(Malone) has a tremendous depth of experience as well as a breadth of experience,” said school committee member Jayne Miller. “He brings so much, so many connections through the DESC , so many programs he’s worked on…He understands what is it to work at the granular level to make teachers excited about teaching, but he also understands how to look across a district and really inspire people.”
School Committee Chairperson Krissy Polimeno agreed.
“He was the one candidate that met all the criteria,” Polimeno said. “I think that he had the opportunity to do so many things in Revere that he’s going to bring so much back to Tewksbury. It’s a fresh set of eyes looking at how we do things.
“He’s a real consensus builder,” Polimeno added. “And I think he’s really going to bring our administrative teams together and…really motivate people. The thing I loved the most about him is that he really wants to empower all the people that work with him. I’m talking about everybody in his buildings, anyone form the custodial staff to the teaching staff to the administrative staff to the nursing staff. He really empowers people.”
Malone, reached at his Danvers home Thursday night, was clearly elated at having received the offer from Tewksbury just an hour earlier.
“I had a good feeling about this,” he admitted. “I spent the entire day in Tewksbury (Wednesday), from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and my day was jam-packed with meetings with the school committee, selectmen, (teaching) staff, parents . I met a whole lot of people and just so many positive things about the district where laid out. At times, it felt more like, instead of being interviewed, people were trying to recruit me and make me feel welcomed, and that’s a great feeling.”
Malone wouldn’t disclose a short list of items he felt needed to be changed in Tewksbury, but rather hinted that his first few months on the job would be spent listening to teachers, administrators, students and parents to better understand the district’s priorities.
“We’ll look at everything,” Malone said. “From looking at the alignment of the grade level curriculum and how it’s aligned with state standards, to really taking a deep dive into a real look at the culture around instruction. I witnessed a lot of very good instruction (on Wednesday) and I really want to hone in and empower teachers and help them develop instructional techniques and look at how we can all get better.”
Malone also agreed that his experience in Revere should serve him well in Tewksbury.
“The benefit of being in a larger, urban district and facing all the challenges we faced is that in that kind of environment there’s a very strong sense of urgency around education and curriculum instruction because we know it (public school education) is those kids’ best shot,” Malone said. “It’s a big plus coming into Tewksbury where there’s so much parental support and so much family involvement, and such a culture around the kids doing well, going onto college or a getting a good job. Having that belief system already in place in Tewksbury is great. You don’t have to create that. I think that’s a big plus.
“I’m very much excited, really looking forward to it,” Malone added. “I had some ideas about Tewksbury and some thoughts which were all very positive (before applying for the position). But going through this process, you just don’t hear one bad thing about Tewksbury. I’m itching to get started.”