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NEW SCHOOL HEAD APPOINTED MASCONOMET TAPS PRINCETON OFFICIAL
The Boston Globe (Boston, MA) April 1, 2004 | John Laidler, Globe Correspondent A New Jersey schools chief will become the new superintendent of the Masconomet Regional School district.
Claire Sheff Kohn, the superintendent of the Princeton, N.J., Regional Schools, agreed on Tuesday to a five-year contract offer from the Masconomet Regional School Committee. She will start Aug. 1.
Her decision ended a period of uncertainty over whether Kohn, the committee’s top choice for the job, would end up as the next superintendent of the district, which serves just over 2,000 middle school and high school students from Boxford, Middleton, and Topsfield.
The committee voted, 12-0, last Tuesday to offer the position to Kohn, who was one of three finalists out of 20 applicants. Kohn reviewed the committee’s offer and made a counteroffer Friday. On Monday, the committee made its own counteroffer, the proposal that Kohn ultimately accepted.
Under the contract, Kohn, who succeeds retiring Superintendent Kathleen M. Lynch, will be paid a salary of $140,000, according to School Committee chairwoman Kathryn Hartmann.
The other two finalists were Michael Ananis, the superintendent of School Administrative Unit 39 in Amherst, N.H., and Dennis Richards, associate superintendent in Reading.
Since Lynch is not scheduled to leave until the end of August, Hartmann said she and Kohn will serve in a cosuperintendent capacity during that month.
“I’m very excited. I think this is a wonderful district and I’m excited at the prospect of being their superintendent,” Kohn, 56, said in a telephone interview Tuesday from her office in New Jersey. princetonregionalschoolsnow.net princeton regional schools
She said what stood out to her about Masconomet were the people she had encountered there.
“I had a wonderful site visit and had the good fortune to meet not only with School Committee members but with faculty, administration . . . students, and others,” she said. “The thing that impressed me the most was the relationship between the teachers and the students. There’s a genuine respect and affection. The kids love their teachers and the teachers are there for the kids. That’s very compelling.” In addition to Masconomet, Kohn had been a finalist for superintendent’s posts in Danvers, Brookline, and Holliston, she said. She dropped out of the running for the Danvers position on the morning before that town’s School Committee awarded its job last week.
“We feel she’s an A-plus candidate all around,” Hartmann said. “She has a very strong, proven track record as superintendent. She’s a strong educational leader with an excellent grasp of finances.” “She’s articulate, she’s a terrific writer, she’s knowledgeable,” Hartmann added, observing, “We felt we had two other strong candidates in the wings, but we were excited she took our offer. She was our first choice.” Kohn, who grew up in Weymouth, has a bachelor’s degree in English from Stonehill College in Easton, a master’s of education in guidance and counseling from Boston College, and a doctorate of education in school administration from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. go to web site princeton regional schools
She began her educational career in 1971 as an English teacher at Bicknell Junior High School in Weymouth. After a year in that position, she went to Concord-Carlisle Regional High School, where she worked for a year as a humanities teacher and for a year as a counseling intern. She then spent six years as a guidance counselor at Westwood High School.
In 1980, she began an eight-year stint as an administrator at the Norwell public schools, first as an assistant principal and for six years as assistant superintendent. From there she spent five years as school superintendent in Hull.
In 1993, she began a seven-year stint as superintendent of the Lawrence Township school district in New Jersey. She became superintendent of the 3,400-student Princeton Regional Schools in 2000.
Kohn is married to Gerald Kohn, formerly superintendent for the Triton Regional School district and currently school superintendent in Harrisburg, Pa. The two have a commuting marriage, a situation that will continue when Kohn begins the Masconomet job.
“New Jersey has been very good to me,” Kohn said. “I’ve enjoyed it. Both districts have been really good districts.” Her decision to return to Massachusetts was prompted by the fact that she had spent 21 years of her career here, and by family reasons, said Kohn, whose mother and two brothers still live in Weymouth, and who also has siblings in New Hampshire.
In her present job, Kohn has faced some of the same challenges that superintendents must face in Massachusetts, including tight budgets and high stakes testing.
John Laidler, Globe Correspondent
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