Marblehead appoints pair of new school leaders

Marblehead didn’t have to look far to find its next high school principal and assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, with Superintendent of Schools John Buckey tapping a pair of internal candidates to fill the pending vacancies.

The principal and assistant superintendent posts came open when Dan Bauer and Nan Murphy accepted superintendent positions in Danvers and Dedham, respectively. Buckey, along with a search committee, selected Marblehead High School Assistant Principal Michele Carlson to take over for Bauer as principal and Veterans Middle School Assistant Principal Julia Ferreira to take over for Murphy as assistant superintendent. 

In promoting internal candidates, Buckey wrote that he was confident in Carlson and Ferriera’s ability to hit the ground running in their new posts once the school year concludes.

“Both Michele and Julia received robust support from their respective Search Committees, and both have the support and recommendations of their current principals, who have been mentoring them to take this next step in their career,” Buckey said.

The school district is on the precipice of a perilous budget season, with 33 jobs set to be cut if a Proposition 2 ½ override does not pass at Town Meeting on May 1.

Carlson and Ferreira both earned rave reviews from their respective principals, and ostensible mentors, Bauer and Matt Fox.

“I couldn’t be happier for the future of MHS,” Bauer said. “I have enjoyed mentoring Michele. She has been an asset, and I know she will continue to move our important initiatives forward.”

“Julia is ready for this next step in her career,” added Fox. “She will bring a wealth of knowledge around curricula, and her excellent relationships with students, teachers, and families will serve her well.”

After spending nearly a decade as the assistant principal at Marblehead high, Carlson felt becoming a principal represented the next step in her career. She said she was thrilled to be able to continue her work at Marblehead High School, and intends to meet with stakeholders to get a sense of what they see as the strengths — and shortcomings — of the school. 

“As part of my entry plan, I do not want to assume I know what the stakeholders are looking for the future of Marblehead High School,” Carlson said. 

Before she came to Marblehead, Carlson worked as a classroom teacher and department coordinator at Wakefield Memorial High School. She said she felt all of her experiences in administration and coursework have prepared her to take the leap from assistant principal to principal. 

“I bring years of institutional knowledge to this position. I have been mentored by many outstanding professionals over the years. Most recently by Dan Bauer, the current Principal of Marblehead High School,” she said. 

Carlson said she sought to build on the work the school has done in recent years, particularly when it comes to ensuring students are prepared for life after high school. With the reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic still being felt across the school, Carlson said she intended to place an emphasis on re-engaging students in school and increasing their involvement. 

She pointed to the beginning of several programs as a way to accomplish those goals. 

“We have launched several programs for next year including college and career readiness with the MyCap program, Innovative Pathways Program, and manufacturing/engineering. We are also adding the option for students to earn the seal of biliteracy. We have had students participate in the after-dark, dual enrollment, and root programs,” she said. 

Ferreira worked as an assistant principal in Oakley, California at Freedom High School before taking up the same position in Marblehead in 2020. She also worked as an English teacher and team leader at the Freedom School, and before that worked as an English teacher and department chair at Oakland Military Institute College Preparatory Academy for six years.

With almost two decades of educational experience under her belt, Ferreira said she is seeking to apply what she has learned to support the work educators are doing to ensure students are successful. 

“I will be very present in schools and work closely with our school leaders to lend my support,” she said. 

Though Ferreira has not worked in the district long, she said she has already developed a bevy of relationships and a “track record of assuming roles and responsibilities beyond my current position,” noting her work with the district’s METCO program. She said the assistant superintendent post represents an opportunity to put her passion for teaching and learning into action. 

Ferreira praised both Murphy and Fox, saying she intended to spend the transition period working with and learning from Murphy who she called “an incredible leader.” 

“The support I have received from the team at Vets and our school community is heart-warming,” Ferreira said. 

Ferreira also cited the importance of building and maintaining relationships as an administrator, something she said was one of her bigger picture goals as she takes on a district-wide leadership post. 

“I will focus on building relationships with those I have not had the privilege to work with yet and collaborate with them on the work ahead of us to achieve our goals as outlined in the District’s Plan for Success,” she said. 

Buckey added the advancement of Carlson and Ferreira shows the investment the district has made in mentorship coming to fruition. 

“Both educators will have an opportunity to work closely with their predecessors over the next three months to learn even more about these roles before taking the positions on July 1,” he said.