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Distributed June 1, 2005
Contact Mark Nickel

About 610 Words

Ruth J. Simmons
Help Us Find Your Next School Superintendent

A 20-member search committee, chaired by Brown President Ruth J. Simmons, will help find the next superintendent of Providence schools. The committee is asking Providence residents for their best thinking, either through an online questionnaire or at two community forums.

The City of Providence is searching the nation for a new leader for one of its most important jobs: the Superintendent of Schools. As we proceed with our search for the best candidates, the City, School Board and the School Superintendent Search Committee, which I am honored to chair, want to hear directly from the people of Providence.

My nineteen colleagues and I on the search committee will prepare a list of final candidates from which the School Board and the Mayor will select the next leader of the Providence Schools. We are a well-rounded team that includes School Board members, current and former students of the Providence Schools, parents, educators, the president of the Providence Teachers Union, elected officials, and state, community and business leaders. Each of us is a passionate believer in the power of a good education.

We believe that a positive experience in school can transform a young child’s life, open a portal to a wide range of possibilities, and encourage and help realize even the biggest of dreams. Nothing should stand in the way of a well-run, student-centered public school.

Most people understand this. Deep in their hearts, parents, grandparents, teachers, school administrators and elected officials truly want an excellent education for every student who walks through the classroom door of a Providence public school.

The search committee wants to hear from you. As citizens of Providence, you have important experiences and strong ideas to share about the character, qualities, credentials, skills and attitudes the city’s schools need in their new leader.

There are at least two ways to reach us.

First, the Providence Schools offer an online Community Input Survey through the Providence Schools Web site. You can complete a survey at The committee will read every completed survey.

Second, representatives of the search committee and the School Board will be available at two upcoming community forums in Providence – Wednesday, June 1, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Springfield/Del Sesto Complex, 152 Springfield Street, and Monday, June 6, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Juanita Sanchez Complex, 182 Thurbers Avenue.

Our committee is already at work with a national search firm that has an impressive track record of helping other cities find excellent leadership for public school systems. We have a network of more than 20,000 educators and civic leaders across the country helping us identify talented and energetic candidates.

In addition to our request for your best thinking, the committee would like to ask for your understanding. A national search process is most effective when it remains confidential until finalists are announced. The best candidates for this job are likely to have current, highly visible roles in their communities, so we must maintain confidentiality as we do our work.

The Providence Public Schools have shown quantifiable, across-the-board improvement in recent years. There are ambitious efforts under way in literacy programs, high school reform, early childhood education and after-school learning. Student achievement is rising.

Yet our schools still face many challenges that must be addressed by the next superintendent. As Mayor Cicilline has reminded us, Providence no longer needs a turnaround specialist. It needs an experienced and inspiring leader, a passionate advocate for public education, and an effective manager.

The committee understands the important charge that the Mayor has given it, and we appreciate his leadership and support. We promise the people of Providence the benefit of our best critical thinking and most diligent investigation to find the most promising candidates who are right for our great city. We want to hear from you, the members of our community. We want to include your wisdom and experience in our discussions.

Ruth J. Simmons is President of Brown University and Chair of the Providence Schools Superintendent Search Committee.

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