New Lilja School Principal Chosen
Superintendent Peter Sanchioni names Heather Smith new leader of Lilja School.
Heather Smith, the energetic and passionate assistant principal at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, has been named the new principal of the Lilja School, Superintendent Peter Sanchioni announced yesterday afternoon.
"Heather will relate to the staff and the parents will love her," Sanchioni said, noting that her experience with reading and literacy, bullying prevention and her overall energy and passion were three things that made her stand out over the other candidates.
According to a newsletter sent out by Sanchioni, Smith has been at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School for the past 2.5 years. Prior to that she taught middle school English in Mansfield. She has also taught English/Literacy Strategies at the Hope Arts School in Providence, served as an adjunct professor of English at the Community College of Rhode Island and spent a semester as Poet in Residence at the Community Preparatory School, also in Providence. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wheaton College, a Master of Arts and Teaching in English from Brown University and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Rhode Island College.
"I am excited about the expertise she brings in the areas of curriculum and instruction and, through our selection process and the many reference calls I have made, it is clear that Heather is an intelligent, thoughtful, reflective educator who has an exceptional ability to relate well to people," Sanchioni wrote in the newsletter.
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Sanchioni mentioned several times the great references Smith received. He said he spoke to the principal at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School, as well as the Mansfield superintendent, and both said "she is ready to be a principal." The principal also said that their school has over 1,000 students, so much of what she does is work that is normally part of a principal's responsibilities.
At the Lilja School Principal Forum held on Feb. 26, Smith said her strength is building relationships. She talked about how she is always trying to learn new things to improve and about using positive relationships to create a positive school culture, something she has done successfully in Mansfield by implementing and heading the district's bullying prevention program.
"I'm confident in her," Sanchioni said, adding that he "really looked at the feedback from parents and teachers" at the Forum and they really loved her.
Smith beat out three other finalists who were at the Forum on Feb. 26.
"We were very fortunate to have four excellent finalists," Sanchioni said. "This is the fourth principal search in my tenure, and it's the first time we've had four candidates of this caliber."
Smith will succeed interim principal Tyler Page, who took over at Lilja when principal Barbara Brown left for the Pine Hill Elementary School in Sherborn in June. She will officially begin her role as principal at Lilja on July 1, but is expected to visit several times between now and then.
The new Lilja School principal is expected to be publicly introduced at the School Committee meeting on Monday, April 1.