Every morning, Kenneth C. Coombs School assistant principal Wendy M. Lithwin greets students as they enter the school with their parents.
“They’re starting out the new day and I want them to start off positively,” she said.
The administrator hopes she will be able to do the same when she begins her new position as principal of the school next fall.
Ms. Lithwin was selected for the position on Monday over fellow finalist James Graham, the current principal of North Brookfield Elementary School, after the two completed an interview process with a search committee and superintendent Brian A. Hyde over the past several weeks.
In an e-mail sent to school staff and faculty announcing her new position, Mr. Hyde lauded Ms. Lithwin for her successful school leadership and ability to earn the respect of staff, parents and students.
“According to her peers, Wendy is a highly regarded educational leader, patient, considerate, and respectful. She has led curriculum mapping initiatives and data teams in our district. Wendy shares my vision of Mashpee Public Schools becoming a high-performing school district and I welcome her to this new role,” Mr. Hyde wrote.
Ms. Lithwin has been the assistant principal of the school for the past three years. Prior to working in Mashpee, she served as a 2nd grade teacher and then a Title I math specialist and intervention coach in the Barnstable Public School system.
Every principal has goals they feel need to be stressed, she said, and hers are similar to those of current principal Elaine M. Pender.
“Right now, I just want to make sure everybody has common high expectations with students,” Ms. Lithwin said.
Like Ms. Pender, she said that she would like to strengthen communication between parents and faculty and plans to have an “open-door policy” starting this summer.
“I want to hear what the community has to say about things they might be concerned about,” she said. She added that she also plans to interview teachers to hear their perspectives on classroom issues and brainstorm potential solutions.. “It’s not to say that everything will happen, but nothing happens without dialogue.”
As assistant principal, Ms. Lithwin has been responsible for teacher evaluations, grant writing, completing paperwork for accreditations, managing school bus issues, providing assistance with professional development—and, well, anything that Ms. Pender needs to have done.
“We operate as a team,” she said of her work with the current principal.
One of her highest priorities as principal will be to maintain her relationship and interaction with students, which might require her to complete some administrative work before and after the school day. Changes bring challenges, Ms. Lithwin said, but she expects that she and other staff members will work together to adjust to those changes.
“The more people that can be involved in the change, the more likely it will be to proceed positively,” she said.
Ms. Lithwin is also excited about another change: the expanded preschool program that will begin at the school in the fall.
She said the program will allow all Mashpee students access to the “prerequisites” of kindergarten, such as learning to take direction from an adult outside of their families and interacting with other students.
“Even things like, ‘Do you recognize your name when it is written?’ ” she said. “Some families automatically teach it and some don’t.”
Aligned to state standards, the program will help more children develop academic and social vocabulary and expose them to media.
“I think that the preschool setting will provide expansion of that for all kids,” Ms. Lithwin said.