by Eva Zacharakis, News Editor & Sarah Wei, News Reporter
photo courtesy of Mark Aronson
Superintendent David Fleishman appointed Mark Aronson as interim principal after Principal Joel Stembridge resigned in May. Stembridge’s departure followed 11 years at South.
Due to the late vacancy for the position, Fleishman appointed an interim principal, buying time to conduct a proper search for Stembridge’s permanent replacement, said Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education, Toby Romer.
“It’s an opportunity for the South community to gather stocks and think about what they would like in a leader going forward so that we can do a really thorough search process and select somebody that can move the school forward,” he said.
Since graduating from South, Aronson has extensive experience working in the Newton Public Schools (NPS). Beginning his career as a math teacher at Day Middle School for 13 years, he was then a dean at North, was North’s interim principal in the 2015-16 school year and was Day Middle School’s Interim Principal in 2016-17. He was the interim Wheeler house dean during the 2018-19 school year and an interim director of athletics at South.
As the interim director of Newton Community Education for the 2019-2020 school year, Aronson adapted its programming to fit an online model.
Fleishman said that Aronson has the optimal characteristics to lead and support the community.
“You need someone who has perspective, who is wise and who’s very connected to people emotionally and understands how to support people when they’re anxious,” he said. “He has the right qualities at the right time.”
History teacher and member of the High School Academic Planning Committee Rachael McNally said that Aronson is fit for the role.
“Aronson is always willing to listen to people, and that is an essential attribute of any leader right now. He does not discourage pushback during deep discussions of complex issues,” she said. “This means there is the chance to get through initial reactions to an issue and end up with actual solutions.”
Interim vice principal Christopher Hardiman said that Aronson’s years of experience make him a perfect candidate to lead South this year.
“He’s already done this job before,” he said. “Even though it’s a difficult and unusual year, his experience with the Newton community is going to make him an excellent fit”.
Aronson said that a strong community and anti-racist curriculum will be integral at South this year.
“We’re going to start the school year off working on community building and connections,” he said. “Teachers are working diligently to develop a curriculum that will include community building connections and active anti-racism within their daily practice.”
Aronson said that building a strong community and mastering the curriculum are interconnected.
“In order to really learn curriculum well, you need a good, strong community. My feeling is relationships are the most important thing,” he said.
Aronson said that he’s encouraged by the committed team working with him.
“Two years ago, I got to work with the administrative team, and it’s a really talented, caring group,” he said. “It is also exciting to me that the teachers I have gotten to know also seem like the kind of people who would want to do this work.”