April 03. 2013 10:46PM

Assistant superintendent candidates meet Nashua board

Union Leader Correspondent




NASHUA - The three finalists to become the Nashua School District's new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction appeared before the Board of Education for a very public second interview Wednesday night.

Roughly 15 people came to Nashua High School North to watch Ledge Street Elementary School Principal Janet Valeri, Main Dunstable Elementary School vice principal Karen Crebase, and Raymond School District elementary school Principal Daniel LeGallo sit before the board for roughly 45 minutes each and take their questions.

Before the meeting began, Superintendent Mark Conrad explained that the position, which became available when current Assistant Superintendent Althea Sheaff announced she would be retiring at the end of this year, was advertised both locally and nationally.

Six individuals were chosen from 56 applications for the first round of interviews, and from that group, three finalists were selected to go before the board.

Valeri, who appeared before the board first, took questions from the board on a number of topics, including queries on her experience with integration of technology into the classroom.

Valeri told the board that being a principal of a school where 83 percent of all students qualify for free or reduced lunches has taught her that it takes a village to help children living in poverty. She mentioned teaching parents techniques for helping their children with their homework as one of the ways she improved test scores at Ledge Street.

Next before the board was Karen Crebase, who started off by taking a few extra minutes to introduce herself to the board and explain that despite currently being a half-time assistant principal at Main Dunstable, she has the required experience for the assistant superintendent position. She said she only took a break from her career as a principal in the Nashua School District so she could start a family. Now that her children are older, Crebase said, she is ready to take on a larger workload.

When discussing her philosophy as an educator, Crebase said, "I truly believe that an effective teacher makes all the difference in a child's education, and I am very passionate about it."

Crebase wasn't entirely alone during her interview, as about roughly 10 current and former colleagues of hers attended the meeting to lend their support.

"I had no idea they would be here," Crebase said.

LeGallo was the last to go before the board, and as the sole finalist who is a district outsider, he took time during his introduction to explain his interest in the position.

Currently serving as the principal of Lamprey River Elementary School in Raymond, LeGallo said the assistant superintendent position was the first position he has applied for in seven years, and that reason he did was the chance to impact the lives of as many students as possible.

When discussing the challenges facing Nashua, LeGallo discussed his experience in Raymond using Title I funding in unique ways. He mentioned not focusing all Title I federal funding into elementary schools, which Nashua currently does, and instead using some of it to follow children through middle school and high school.

After the three candidates completed their interviews, the board moved into a nonpublic session to give feedback to Conrad. Board President Robert Hallowell said no vote or decision as to who will be hired would be made during the nonpublic meeting.

Conrad, who previously said he hopes to have the new assistant superintendent named by April vacation, has sole authority as to which of the three finalists is presented to the board, which will then vote whether to accept his recommendation.