The Tewksbury Superintendent Search Committee has concluded its work and formally forwarded four finalist names to the full School Committee.
The 12-member committee relied on interviews as well as a survey that received 437 responses, the majority, 66.13%, from parents or guardians of students in the system. Most, 56.52%, said the next superintendent should be a teacher. The need for communication skills was a top priority.
Based on that input, the Search Committee has recommended these finalists, whose names were revealed at tonight’s school committee meeting. All have backgrounds in education; two are residents. Now, the School Committee will do public interviews with the candidates before selecting the new leader of the Tewksbury Public Schools.
Here is something about each finalist.
Brent Conway is a Tewksbury resident with two children in Tewksbury schools, one at the Ryan and one at the Wynn. Conway is currently the assistant superintendent for the Pentucket Regional School District in West Newbury, Mass. He has nearly 25 years of experience as an educator, according to his professional website, as a classroom teacher, in higher education and special education and as a building administrator. As a principal, he led Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose, Mass. to achieve a National Blue Ribbon School designation for closing achievement gaps. As the Assistant Superintendent in Pentucket, he led efforts in the district and across the state to implement evidence-based literacy instruction and provide enhanced advanced coursework opportunities for high school students. He recently spoke at the Learning Ally’s Spotlight on Early Literacy & the Whole Child and is currently working on his PhD in Education Leadership at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Darcy Fernandes is superintendent at Athol Royalston Regional School District in Athol; a search is currently underway to identify her replacement. Fernandes, who is based in Northhampton, has been working in K-12 education for 25 years. She started her career as a social studies teacher, then become principal of Roosevelt Middle School in New Bedford, where she established the Amigo Center for parent support with particular emphasis in interpretation and care for families for whom English is not their first language, according to her bio on a recent Time for Teachership podcast. Fernandes has spent her career working in districts with high numbers of low-income families, and many of the districts she has worked in have had a high number of minority and ELL students. She holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from Framingham State.
Nan Skiff Murphy is Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for Marblehead Public Schools and a resident of Burlington. She previously worked for the Massachusetts Department of Education, where she was charged with bringing an under-performing school in Lowell up to DESE standards. Murphy is familiar with the area, having taught in the Wilmington Public Schools and been a finalist for the superintendent position in 2018, and holding positions as assistant principal and principal at the McAuliffe School in Lowell. In 2020 she sat for a lengthy interview while seeking the top spot in New Bedford. Murphy is also currently a finalist for a superintendent position in Marlborough. She holds a Master’s in School Leadership from Gordon College.
Brenda Theriault-Regan is currently Tewksbury’s acting superintendent and the second resident in the finalist field. Theriault-Regan has worked in the district for over 20 years. She started her career as a classroom teacher at the Ryan Elementary School in 2000, and in 2009 she was appointed interim vice-principal of the Ryan before being hired permanently for that position. She was a member of the TMHS Building Committee and in 2012 was selected to replace the outgoing TMHS principal, coming on just as the school was opening. She held this position for a year and a half before becoming assistant superintendent, where one of her main focuses has been curriculum. In March 2022, she took on the role of acting superintendent when former superintendent Chris Malone retired. Theriault-Regan holds a Master’s of Education Degree from Fitchburg State and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from American International College in educational leadership.
The search committee should be commended for bringing four high-quality candidates to the School Committee. Now the work begins for the Committee to vet and interview the finalists before voting on the new superintendent.