Interview with Sutton Schools Superintendent

How is a snow day decided? Will we see masks return?

Emma Logue, Staff Reporter

In the Sutton School District, we’ve had a change in major administration. Dr. Kimberly Roberts-Morandi is our new Superintendent of Schools! We’re all happy to welcome Mrs Roberts-Morandi and excited to see the changes she brings to Sutton Schools.

I had the opportunity to sit down with her and Executive Assistant to the Superintendant Dianne Guillen and ask them a few questions about their position and experiences in the Sutton School District.

Questions: What do you do as Superintendent?

“I break it down into categories. My job as an instructional leader is to take action steps to help to keep Sutton continuously moving forward… I came into a situation where there were a lot of academic strengths, and now I just get to look at it from an outside perspective with all the experiences I’ve had and say ‘Ok we’re doing a really good job, where could we do even better?’

“It means working together with other administrators and looking at how we can provide students with an enriching learning experience too. Thinking about what is taught in support of the state framework, the resources we use, the preparation that teachers need, and the activities you’re engaged in.

“Then there’s the operations part, so buildings, grounds and schedules, human resources; all the work behind the scenes that keeps the district up and running.

Then there’s community connections. I need to be the voice of the district but I think more than that I need to be the voice for the district.  It means you get to be a cheerleader. That’s definitely the best part for me. I attend the events, I went to the cafeteria, I watched how excited people were excited were about Irish nachos!”

Second question: How has the position been going and what made you interested in the position to begin with?

“I knew I wanted to extend my career and my learning too. I’ve been a teacher, I’ve been a principal, I’ve been a district level administrator, I’ve been an assistant superintendent and an acting superintendent so this was the final extension of my Pre K- 12 career. The day I first drove in here for my first interview, it felt like home. I look at my work right now as polishing a gem because that’s what I believe we have here in Sutton.”

Question: Any ongoing events you’d like to address?

“I need to spend the next 8 months creating an entry plan, it’s part of the job. That means, interviews, document reviews, conducting surveys, observations, anyway I can gather data on what’s been happening here… What are the things that the majority of people we’ve spoke to have identified as ‘this is what we think we’re doing very well, and what are the couple of big issues that rise to the top. I want to help keep putting more structures in place to help support the work people are doing.”

Question: Policy on snow days?

“Here’s the disappointing part- snow days are not as driven by the superintendent as you might expect. There’s no hard and fast policy for when you don’t have school or when you have a delay. Calling a snow day is probably the worst part of the job. It’s working with road crews, the police, using the data we have… all of those things have to go into consideration. All of those questions have to go into play because safety has to be the first and foremost consideration.”

Question: Do you think we could see mask mandates return?

“We have to follow the guidance of the state- we follow their recommendations when it’s applicable. Really, I’m hopeful that between vaccines and boosters… we might just be able to stay on the course that we’re on. But if the health indicators and the public health department direct us to do something different then we’ll respond.”

Next, I spoke to Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Dianne Guillen, to learn more about her position.

Question: What do you do in this position?

“My main focus would be to support the superintendent so she can focus on academics and things she needs to do. I do state reporting, I type out corespondents, memos, school choice applications, keep track of the homeschooling students, I keep her calendar up to date, schedule meetings, answer phone calls and whenever someone wants to rent a facility I take care of that. I am also the school committee recording secretary and I compile the packets.”

Question: How have you felt about this position and what has it taught you?

“I like working one on one, where I’m not micromanaged. I like knowledge about computers, this allows me to be involved in different things, it’s not the same thing every day. Always learning more about how to streamline things so we can work more and get more done in a day.”

Question: How have you seen the community change?

“I haven’t seen the community change, it was wonderful when I started. I started in October 2013, shortly after that my son was diagnosed with cancer. He’s doing wonderful now, but at that time I was very nervous having started a new job. I was allowed to work from the hospital and come in when I could. The people here were wonderful, they had a drive to help me, it was wonderful and I never expected it. No one really knew me at the point even, and yet they all came together, and I still see that now; the wonderful community.”

It was a pleasure being able to sit down with Dr. Roberts-Morandi and Mrs. Guillen, and it is clear that they are a strong leadership team that want to do their very best for the district.