Former JFK principal Jen Henderson joins central administration

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She’s a familiar face within the Canton Public School system, but after spending the last three years as principal of the JFK Elementary School, Jen Henderson will be taking on a new role this school year, having been named the interim director of curriculum and instruction.

Jen Henderson

Jen Henderson

Robin Billing, the former director of curriculum, instruction and technology, announced her unexpected retirement at the end of last school year due to “unforeseen circumstances related to her health.”  In effect, her role was split in two, with Henderson heading the curriculum and instruction element, and Colleen McCarthy, the former technology integration specialist, being named the interim director of technology.

Henderson and McCarthy were part of what was an extensive reshuffling of central administration leadership this summer, which includes the additions of new Superintendent Jeff Granatino and new director of student services Debra Bromfield.

Henderson’s is an interim position — “over this school year, the administration and School Committee will determine how they want the position to be finalized,” she explained — but nonetheless one that comes with a lot of responsibility. Henderson will oversee the professional development for the district, analyze “outcome data” like MCAS scores, and write state and federal grants.

“The grant writing aspect for state and federal funding is new for me and has been a learning experience,” Henderson wrote in an email to the Citizen. “Although I have written smaller grants, the larger state and federal grants provide a new challenge.”

Henderson also helps to implement new curriculum, which will be a key part of her job this year, with the school system introducing a new English Language Arts curriculum at the elementary level and a new math curriculum at the middle school level.

“I want to be certain that the teachers receive the support that they need to make this implementation go smoothly,” Henderson continued.

Specifically, for the new English Language Arts curriculum, Henderson told the Citizen that “we are moving our reading specialists into more of a ‘coaching role’ rather than a support services role, and we are providing supplemental support to ‘at risk’ readers by hiring more tutors who are certified teachers, some certified as reading specialists.”

In addition to any new programs added this year, since Massachusetts adopted the new “national common core standards” set forth by the Race to the Top initiative, Henderson only has until September 2011 to help make sure that the district’s standards are aligned with these new national standards.

One of Henderson’s goals is to start a curriculum newsletter that is sent home to parents and to start an evening workshop series designed to “bring parents in to learn more about the new programs in the district.”  An example of this, Henderson said, would be to explain the new bullying law and the “impact that it will have on our students, teachers, and [families].”

With Henderson leaving the JFK, former JFK assistant principal and fifth grade teacher Jan Chamberlain is now the interim principal there, while Meredith Carey, a psychologist at the JFK, has become the interim assistant principal for the school.

“I’ve been working with Jan all summer as she transitions into her new position as principal of the JFK,” Henderson wrote in an email. “Jan is a highly committed professional and has a true love of the JFK, its staff and students. She is going to do a terrific job.”

With Granatino, Bromfield, Henderson and McCarthy forming a new central administration core, the start of this school year in a way represented the start of a new chapter for the school system. Henderson, for one, seems to be optimistic about what is ahead.

“It is an exciting time for Canton,” she said.

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avatar Posted by on Sep 16 2010. Filed under News, Schools. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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