The Newton School Committee voted to hire Dr. Anna Nolin, the current superintendent of Natick Schools, in a unanimous vote Friday morning. That means Thomas Anderson, New Bedford’s superintendent, will remain in his role as the chief executive of one of New Bedford’s largest employers, food distributors, and social service providers: its public school district.
”I’m thrilled both of them raised their hand,” said Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller of the two finalist candidates. “I think Dr. Nolin is exactly what we need at this moment in time.”
In an emailed statement, Anderson said “It was an exciting process, and I am proud that I was asked to be a part of it. Congratulations to Anna and all the best to the Newton Community moving forward.”
The committee spoke highly of Anderson, but thought Nolin seemed a better match. “[Anderson] will have a large role to play and he will be sought after,” said committee member Anping Shen. “Dr. Nolin seems a perfect match here.”
The decision came in a special session of the Newton School Committee one day after Anderson toured the high-achieving, suburban district, including meeting with faculty and staff, observing classes, answering questions from the public, and presenting a 90-day “transition plan” to School Committee members as part of his finalist interview.
In his interview, Anderson fielded questions from Fuller and members of the Newton School Committee on topics such as his management style and his educational philosophy, as well as specifics of decisions he made during the coronavirus pandemic and evidence of a data-driven approach to financial and educational interventions he’s overseen.
Anderson highlighted his relationships as key components to running a large urban district, and often referenced his experiences as a principal and assistant principal in Maryland and Chicago.
”Mr. Anderson has managed large and complex districts that, in some ways, face more challenges than we do,” said committee member Kathleen Shields, adding that she had “no concern that either would be excellent leaders for our district.”
Committee members said they were ultimately convinced by Dr. Nolin’s focus on supporting principals and teachers, referencing her philosophy of personalized learning and “lifting students up to who they want to be.”
”I think she’ll last; there’s a commitment to being here and staying here. That type of stability is helpful,” said Mayor Fuller. “It takes a few years to settle into Newton. We’re complicated.”
The Newton district is facing financial challenges, and a vote early next month looks to increase property taxes to help the schools avoid layoffs of 50 educators and cut technology services for students.
As part of Anderson’s application process, chair of the Newton School Committee, Tamika Olszewski, reached out to New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and President of the New Bedford Educators Association, Thomas Nickerson.
Mitchell lauded Anderson’s “ability to command respect” and “integrity beyond reproach” in his comments to the Committee. Nickerson described an “amicable” relationship and described Anderson as ”skilled at effectively managing the skillsets of his team… without micromanagement.”
Anderson also sought personal references from former School Committee member Josh Amaral.
Email Colin Hogan at email@example.com
Thank you to our sponsors
Founding benefactors: Joan and Irwin Jacobs fund of the Jewish Community Foundation, Mary and Jim Ottaway
Learn more about our community of individual donors
For questions about donations, contact Chrystal Walsh, director of advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions about sponsoring The Light, contact Peter Andrews, director of business development and community engagement, at email@example.com.