Amesbury superintendent finalist looks to become part of community

Stephen Zadravec

AMESBURY — The search for a new superintendent continued Monday night when the School Committee interviewed finalist Stephen Zadravec at Amesbury High School.

The committee is looking to replace Jared Fulgoni, who resigned in October after two years. A 12-member search committee has recommended three finalists to the School Committee.

Zadravec has served as superintendent in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, since 2015. He was the first finalist to be interviewed, with Uxbridge Public Schools Superintendent Frank Tiano slated for an interview at 7 tonight, May 5, Amesbury High School Principal Elizabeth McAndrews scheduled to be interviewed Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Zadravec worked his way up to the Portsmouth superintendent position after working 10 years as an assistant superintendent in that district. He served as an assistant superintendent in Amherst, New Hampshire, from 2002 to 2005.

He also works as an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University. He earned a doctorate in education from Southern New Hampshire University, a master's degree in educational administration and supervision from Plymouth State University, and a bachelor's degree in education and social science from Keene State College.

In a lighter moment Monday night, Zadravec told the School Committee he is an amateur guitarist.

"I did write 'The Remote Learning Blues' but it didn't hit the charts," Zadravec said.

Zadravec said he has been impressed with the amount of pride expressed in the community.

"That attracts me a lot because I am looking for a community to become deeply embedded in," Zadravec said. "As you can see from my resume, I don't jump around from community to community, job to job, and really finding that right fit is important to me. Because I do think that our best work is done when we can really build strong relationships. Those take time and engaging community partners."

Longstanding relationships, with his administrators and the community, would play a critical role if he were hired in Amesbury, Zadravec said.

"Taking the time to build those relationships, I think, is a key part of the conditions that help me be successful," Zadravec said. "I know that would be something that I would have to start with. An entry plan would include a broad listening tour within the community to find out what are the issues? What are the interests and the goals that people have for the schools here?"

Zadravec added that being honest and transparent with the community builds trust.

"That is something that I think is absolutely critical to engaging people and making sure that we can work collectively toward our common goals," he said. "That does take relationship building, that does take time."

Zadravec closed by saying he is a "very visible presence in the schools."

"If there is ever a community that is ripe to harness the power of partnership, I believe it is Amesbury," Zadravec said. "I would be delighted to be chosen to lead that."

McAndrews has been serving as acting superintendent since Fulgoni's departure. 

Finalists' resumes: https://schools.amesburyma.gov/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=13731&dataid=19467&FileName=Finalist%20Resumes.PDF.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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