Last night the Falmouth School Committee voted to hire Bonny Gifford as superintendent of schools. This vote marked an historic moment in the district’s history. The board made a conscious choice to overturn the status quo and raised the bar for the entire school community.
In our recent evaluation of the four finalists for the position convinced us that Dr. Gifford was the right person to lead Falmouth’s schools. We believe she will build on what is already present in Falmouth while working to improve math and science scores that are embarrassingly low for the hometown of Woods Hole Oceanographic.
While she works on improving Falmouth’s academics, Dr. Gifford can help the district master the practice that we call “retail education”. Gifford, as assistant superintendent at the Nauset Regional Schools, comes from the best “retail” school district on Cape Cod. No other district enjoys the school competition success that Nauset has demonstrated over and over again.
We encourage Dr. Gifford to follow some of the “getting to know you” practices that Dr. Mary Czajkowski demonstrated when she joined Barnstable last year. Mary’s grass roots efforts such as neighborhood pot luck dinners, lunching at a different school every day and overall accessibility has served Barnstable’s children quite well.
Falmouth is a good school district with some academic cracks starting to show. If Dr. Gifford can mortar over those cracks while building on “retail education’s” best practices, Falmouth could become a school competition powerhouse on the Upper Cape.
Both Sandwich and Mashpee are vulnerable to a well-organized competitor. For example, there is a population of very dissatisfied Wampanoag’s in Mashpee who would never send their kids to what one Native American scholar called “KKK Headquarters” in Sandwich but might be receptive to outreach from a rejuvenated Falmouth school district. Sandwich’s plan to move eighth graders into the high school is causing consternation among some parents, as did the well-publicized turmoil in the school district over the past few years. Either Mashpee or Sandwich could be rich prospecting ground for Dr. Gifford. Even Barnstable families might consider an improved Falmouth school district as a school choice option.
We applaud Falmouth for hiring a “competitor”.
Read our recent Editorial on this matter here.