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Meet the Cabinet: A Few Minutes With Chief Personnel Officer John Coleman

The final installment of a four-part series asking questions of the new Enfield school administration.

The recent retirements of Superintendent of Schools John Gallacher and other top administrators has created an entirely different look at the top of the Enfield Public Schools' leadership team. New Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Schumann has assembled a cabinet of executive officers, and Enfield Patch will be profiling some of those leaders each day this week.

We began the series with ,  and . We conclude with questions and answers from Chief Personnel Officer John Coleman.

Q: How have your first few weeks been on the job?

A: The first few weeks have gone by very quickly. It’s an exciting time to be in the school system – lots of changes within the District and also in the educational environment. (Common Core State Standards, Safe School Climate, Teacher Evaluation changes) It’s important to have a common focus so we can direct our efforts efficiently and cohesively.

Q: After serving as housemaster for so many years, what will be the biggest adjustment in your new role as chief personnel officer?

A: The adjustment from building administrator to central office administrator has been fairly smooth so far. I am still operating from my core beliefs – the vital importance of what goes on in our classrooms and anywhere our staff interacts with students. Nothing is more critical. I am still making decisions based on what is best for the children of Enfield.  As Chief Personnel Officer, I extend this to include the belief that our hiring decisions are critical in determining the success of our students. So I am seeing a lot of overlap in my new responsibilities compared with my former ones.  It’s still about students and staff. I’m here for them.

Q: The entire top of the school system’s organizational chart has changed. Do you feel a seamless transition is probable, or should parents and students expect some bugs may need to be worked out?

A: The leadership team is committed to being visible and in communication with all the stakeholders in the community. I envision ongoing communication, with a place at the table for everyone. I think the school community has been in a state of transition for nearly three years, with all the school realignments we have gone through and continue to refine. There are a lot of very capable people working in our district to address challenges, solve problems, and make decisions that best serve our students. There are a lot of people invested in our school community and I believe that most people want to be part of a solution and will contribute to solutions if invited to do so.

Q: To date, what do you consider your greatest accomplishment in the education field?

A: I feel my greatest accomplishment  to date in the education field is the work I did for the JFK Middle School transition to a grade 6-8 school. I was able to work on every facet of the process, including the student instructional program, space requirements, staffing needs, and communicating with all the stakeholders. The project unfolded over 18 months – it’s still a work-in-progress – and was the result of a lot of people working toward a common goal. The payoff was when new students and staff joined the JFK community and our efforts proved to be successful.

Q: What do you see is the biggest single challenge facing Enfield Public Schools in the coming year?

A: There are a lot of changes to the educational environment. Common Core State Standards will strongly influence instruction, student learning, and assessment. Teacher evaluation is undergoing a big change as well. Change has been a constant in education lately and this year presents significant changes and opportunities.  This promises to be a challenging and rewarding time for education.

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