Three finalists named for Union 28 superintendent

Erving Elementary School

Erving Elementary School FILE PHOTO

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 01-21-2024 11:51 AM

ERVING — Gateway Regional School District’s curriculum director, the principal at Athol Community Elementary School and the director of assessment and accountability for the Westfield Public School District are the finalists to become the next superintendent for Erving School Union 28.

The finalists vying to succeed Jennifer Culkeen, who is retiring at the end of her ninth year in the position, were announced Friday by Steven Blinder, who has chaired the Union 28 Superintendent Search Committee since it was formed last fall.

The school union is made up of four elementary schools that serve preschool through sixth grade students in Shutesbury, Leverett, Erving, Wendell and New Salem. The four schools have a combined enrollment of around 525 students.

The finalists are:

■Christine Shea, Westfield schools’ director of assessment and accountability. Shea has also taught classes at the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton and worked at the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative. Shea previously served as principal at Swift River School, the school where Wendell and New Salem students are educated;

■Shannon White-Cleveland, the Athol Community Elementary School principal. White-Cleveland has also been the dean of students and coordinator of cooperative education and experiential learning at Montachusett Regional Technical School in Fitchburg. She started her career as a teacher at Sanders Street Elementary School in Athol.

■Deanna LeBlanc, Gateway schools’ director of curriculum. LeBlanc also served as assistant principal at Gateway Regional Middle and High School. Prior to her time at Gateway, she served as principal at Pearl Rhodes Elementary School in Leyden and elementary assistant principal in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District in Sheffield.

Applications for the superintendent position closed on Dec. 19. Under the confidential terms of submission, all applications were reviewed by members of the search committee during an executive session held Jan. 9, followed by interviews that were finished last Wednesday. That led to the committee unanimously recommending the three finalists.

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Blinder said the number of applicants for the position is not being announced publicly.

Blinder, who is also chairman of the Union 28 Joint Supervisory Committee that will make the hiring decision, said finalists will be interviewed between Jan. 29 and Feb. 16, with time set aside for the candidates to tour the schools and meet community members. The Joint Supervisory Committee has set Feb. 16 as the meeting at which an appointment will be made and contract negotiations will begin.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.