, Newburyport, MA

May 17, 2013

River Valley Charter School names new director

Math curriculum coordinator Willemsen assumes role July 1

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — NEWBURYPORT — River Valley Charter School trustees looked from within to hire a replacement for departing director Jeanne Schultz, choosing current mathematics curriculum coordinator Andrew Willemsen to lead the Perry Way school.

Willemsen, a Newburyport resident, was chosen over three other finalists for the job that he is expected to start July 1.

Willemsen, who has taught at the school for eight years in between a three-year stint teaching in Haverhill, said he was excited to lead the school as it continues to grow academically and perpetuate its culture of communication.

“Where all constituencies feel like they have a voice,” Willemsen said.

Founded in 1999, the kindergarten through eighth-grade River Valley Charter School has 288 students from Amesbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, Newbury and West Newbury. The publicly funded school is not part of the Newburyport school district, reporting directly to the state’s Department of Primary and Secondary Education. It is one of 72 charter schools in Massachusetts.

Dana Lowell, River Valley Charter School’s Board of Trustees chairman, said Willemsen’s passion for the Montessori method of teaching, his leadership skills and his strong ties to Newburyport were among the factors that helped the board unanimously choose him.

“For all those things we felt he was the right person for the job. We had some really strong candidates and it was a tough choice, “ Lowell said.

Lowell praised the departing Schultz for her four years of service to the school, saying she was an important leader who was instrumental in the purchase of the school’s Perry Way location. During her tenure, the school has added a gymnasium, library and art room onto the building.

Lowell said the nationwide search for Schultz’s successor began in January. After whittling down the candidates to four, officials invited each person to the school where they spent the day.

“We’re very happy with the results of the process and we’re really happy with the person we found. We’re very excited for the future,” Lowell said.