Jordana Harper-Ewert of Amherst takes over as Greenfield school superintendent

Last modified: Thursday, July 03, 2014
GREENFIELD — After weeks of meeting with community members and getting to know Greenfield better, Jordana Harper-Ewert took over Tuesday as the leader of the School Department.

The Amherst resident has spent the past few weeks touring Greenfield’s country roads, meeting with community leaders, working with the School Committee and visiting local restaurants since being offered the post in April.

“One of my most important goals is getting to know the community, so when I do make decisions on behalf of the schools, it represents students and the broader community,” Harper-Ewert said. “It’s important to me to understand the community here and the unique needs of each school.”

For the last few weeks, the School Department has been in transition from the retiring superintendent Susan Hollins, who ended her six years in the post Monday, and Harper-Ewert .

The two administrators have been working together to ensure a smooth transition and to rank top priorities of the district. Harper-Ewert has been reviewing policies and procedures and making sure facilities are up to snuff. She has also begun the interview process for a grant writer position.

Harper-Ewert also plans to meet with teachers and parents and review MCAS data.

“It’s important to have a broader picture of administration’s top priorities and what initiatives need to be continued,” she said.

In the near future, Harper-Ewert will schedule opportunities to meet with residents, families and teachers to learn directly which projects are successful and what are the concerns.

Harper-Ewert will attend her first School Committee meeting Wednesday, which will focus on reorganizing for the new school year. The committee “has been collaborative. They’ve been welcoming,” she said.

Harper-Ewert isn’t completely green to Greenfield, however. She is a western Massachusetts native and began her career 11 years ago as a Greenfield Center School teacher.

As she takes on her first superintendent post, Harper-Ewert will deal with the opening of the new Greenfield High School building as well as the implementation of new teacher evaluations.

Previously a Chicopee principal and a Springfield chief schools officer, Harper-Ewert already has experience rolling out a teacher evaluation process in those two districts. She said she can take lessons learned from those districts as well as from across the state as Greenfield launches the evaluations.

Harper-Ewert described her approach in becoming superintendent. “It will be a deliberate and thoughtful transition,” she said. “I’m erring on the side of going slowly and making decisions that are right for the schools.”