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Michelle Tesauro named Crocker Farm principal

“Her experience is deep and varied,” Superintendent Maria Geryk said Tuesday, citing Tesauro’s experience working with diverse families as a teacher and a principal. “We are thrilled that she’s coming.”

Tesauro, who has a doctorate in urban education and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in bilingual education, was the principal of a public elementary school in the San Bernardino (Calif.) City Unified School District for six years. She also served as vice principal in the same district for 10 years. Prior to working as a school administrator, she worked as a bilingual educator in several California schools and taught in the New York City public schools.

Geryk said Tesauro has accepted the offer, and the district is working out a contract.

Crocker Farm is currently led by two interim co-principals, Derek Shea and Anne Marie Foley, who were appointed in August after Michael Morris resigned to became the district’s director of evaluation and assessment.

There were 20 applications for the position, and five finalists visited the school last week to participate in tours, interviews and community forums.

Tesauro received strong support from parents following the forum she spoke at, according to screening committee member Isolda Ortega-Bustamante, who said that she had been contacted by several parents who all said that Tesauro was the best choice for the position.

Ortega-Bustamante, who has a child in fourth grade at Crocker Farm and works for the Holyoke public schools, said that although she was unable to meet Tesauro, she believed she was the best candidate for the job.

Ortega-Bustamante said she believed Tesauro would be best for the position because she has successfully worked with diverse communities.

“It’s not about the personal ethnic background of the candidate,” Ortega-Bustamante said. “It’s the background of a candidate in leading a multicultural school.”

Like the rest of the Amherst School District, Crocker Farm has a higher percentage of non-white and Hispanic students than the rest of the state. According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 19.3 percent of Crocker Farm students are Hispanic, compared to 16.4 percent of all Massachusetts students, and 49 percent of Crocker Farm students are non-white, compared to 34 percent statewide.

Another finalists for the position was Foley, who has experience as a teacher at Crocker Farm and is pursuing a doctorate in education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Shea, who has been assistant principal at Crocker Farm since 2010, said he did not apply for the position.

The three other finalists all had experience as teachers and administrators. Sarah Madden is principal of the Brayton Elementary School, a public school in North Adams. Phyllis Dubina has served as principal of the Dolbeare Elementary School in Wakefield and Welch Elementary School in Peabody. And Therese Jilek is the director of technology and instruction at the Hartland-Lakeside School District in Wisconsin.

“The candidates were exceptional,” Geryk said.

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