Judy Rush new Hampshire Regional School District superintendent

  • Judy Rush, who is the director of curriculum and instruction for Pittsfield Public Schools and has been chosen to be the new Hampshire Regional school superintendent, speaks during a public interview, Friday, April 6, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aaron Osborne, who is the business manager for the Palmer Public Schools and a finalist for Hampshire Regional school superintendent, speaks during a public interview, Friday, April 6, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aaron Osborne, who is the business manager for the Palmer Public Schools and a finalist for Hampshire Regional school superintendent, speaks during a public interview, Friday, April 6, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aaron Osborne, who is the business manager for the Palmer Public Schools and a finalist for Hampshire Regional school superintendent, speaks during a public interview, Friday, April 6, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aaron Osborne, who is the business manager for the Palmer Public Schools and a finalist for Hampshire Regional school superintendent, speaks during a public interview, Friday, April 6, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Judy Rush, who is the director of curriculum and instruction for Pittsfield Public Schools and has been chosen to be the new Hampshire Regional school superintendent, speaks during a public interview, Friday, April 6, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Judy Rush, who is the director of curriculum and instruction for Pittsfield Public Schools and has been chosen to be the new Hampshire Regional school superintendent, speaks during a public interview, Friday, April 6, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Judy Rush, who is the director of curriculum and instruction for Pittsfield Public Schools and has been chosen to be the new Hampshire Regional school superintendent, speaks during a public interview, Friday, April 6, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/7/2018 12:03:59 AM

WESTHAMPTON — Hampshire Regional School District’s search for a new superintendent is over after a unanimous vote to hire Judy Rush, the director of curriculum and instruction for Pittsfield Public Schools.

“Everyone thinks Judy Rush is an awesome candidate,” said Carl Schlerman, chairman of both the Hampshire Regional School Committee and the search committee tasked with vetting the 10 candidates who applied for the position. “She brings a new excitement and an energy.”

Jan Gibeau, chairwoman of the joint Chesterfield and Goshen School Committee, agreed.

“We’re excited there is someone with such knowledge but also a collaborative style,” she said of Rush. “These days that’s especially important because we’re all subject to an environment that is divisive.”

The search committee held public interviews Friday with Rush and fellow finalist Aaron Osborne, the director of finance and operations for Palmer Public Schools, in the Hampshire Regional High School auditorium. With a background in business and technology, Osborne served as a math and business teacher in schools in Gill, Montague, Greenfield and Northampton.

At Friday’s interviews, school committee chairs Gibeau and Schlerman, Kayla Solomon of Williamsburg; Brigid O’Riordan of Westhampton; and Erin Couture of Southampton asked the candidates prepared questions. Afterward, the candidates took questions from the audience.

Topics discussed included conflict management skills, budgeting, teaching philosophies, union negotiations, special education programs and school safety.

Osbourne interviewed first, followed by Rush, and after three hours the School Committee representatives broke off into three groups to deliberate. Three representative bodies — the Hampshire Regional school district, the Chesterfield and Goshen joint district, and Union 66 representing Westhampton, Southampton and Williamsburg — voted unanimously to hire Rush.

“I think it’s time for a change, and she is someone who is going to bring that change,” Schlerman said.

Before working as director of curriculum and instruction, Rush served as principal of the Egremont Elementary School in Pittsfield for seven years. She worked as a human resource manager for Macy’s before getting her start in education as a preschool teacher in New Jersey in 1991.

Many school committee members were concerned with tight school budgets, and the particular strain that unfunded state mandates put on small school districts.

“One of the hard realities is that cost of educating students is vastly outpacing the ability of local communities to fund it,” Osbourne said.

Rush said that to deal with any potential budget shortfalls, she would reach out to experts and try to address problems openly, quickly and efficiently. When asked how she would deal with conflicts between the School Committee and the town, Rush cited her ability to build relationships and communicate the specific needs of the schools to outside parties.

“It’s all about transparency and communication,” Rush said. “There’s wonderful things happening in this district and we need to be showcasing that all the time.”

Both candidates stressed the importance of social and emotional learning programs, and continuing to provide quality education for students with special needs. While Osbourne placed more emphasis on school safety and budgets, Rush spoke more about her leadership style, communication and relationship building.

During the interview, Rush indicated she would like to form parent and teacher advisory committees, hold professional development trainings and facilitate book clubs to educate the school community about a diversity of learning styles, including trauma-sensitive learning

“I really enjoy the process of collaborating, bringing teams together to work on things,” Rush said.

Rush will replace Craig Jurgensen, who announced his retirement four months ago. The 19-member search committee, comprised of school committee members, administrators, teachers and parents, is a way to make sure as many stakeholders as possible could have a say in the hiring.

“We set up a process where everyone had a stake,” Gibeau said.

Francis Gougeon, a retired superintendent and professor of education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, served as an educational consultant for the search committee.

“They didn’t want a search company coming in because a company micromanages the entire process,” Gougeon said.

Both Rush and Osbourne toured each of the schools in the weeks preceding, while Hampshire Regional officials visited the finalists’ districts to get a sense of their leadership styles. The committees agreed that Rush was the more experienced candidate and a better fit for the district, given her commitment to communication and collaboration.

“She was more experienced,” Gougeon said. “I think they selected an outstanding person to serve as their superintendent.”

Once a contract is finalized with Rush, she will begin her at the beginning of the school district’s fiscal year on July 1. Using a baseball analogy to describe her career goals, Rush said that this position was like a home run.

“This is where I’d like to settle, in a district with the same philosophies as I do,” Rush said.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy