Photo: Winn Brook Principal Janet Carey
Janet Carey, Belmont’s longest tenured principal, has announced that she is stepping down from leading the educators at the Winn Brook Elementary School at the end of the 2020 school year.
“Filled with mixed emotions, I am writing to let you know that this will be my final year as principal of the Winn Brook School,” Carey wrote in a letter to parents and students.
“Almost eighteen years ago, I came to Belmont as a novice principal. I have cherished my time here and have grown as a result of it. The journey has been challenging yet fulfilling, exhilarating yet exhausting, and constantly changing while unwavering guided by our core values. If I can credit myself with anything, it is hiring well and keeping children central to all decision making,” she said.
While it may seem early to make this announcement, Carey said principal searches typically start in January.
“As I said to [Belmont] Superintendent [John] Phelan, my priority is to give you time to find the right person to lead your school community, the privilege that I’ve so enjoyed.”
Speaking after Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting, Dec. 10, Phelan said Carey put off her retirement for a year as the district welcomed three new principals in the ’19-’20 school year.
“She’s truly a dedicated educator who was really excited to stay one more year with us.” said Phelan.
Search For Next Principal Now Underway
The district posted the Winn Brook job this past Friday, Dec. 6, as Phelan has reached out to the PTO and the Belmont Education Association asking for volunteers to serve on a search committee made up of two parents, two teachers and several administrators.
Phelan hopes to begin the process in mid-January then “whittle the applicants” from about 20 who make the first cut to four or five who will meet with parents, students, educators and administrators. That group will be cut to two finalists who will be interviewed twice by Phelan and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Janice Darias who will then make an offer to the one they feel will be the best fit for the position.
Phelan said he’d like to hire internal candidates “because we know who they are and their character, their work ethic and we have them as part of our family. In turn, they know our culture and all that adds a value to hiring for leadership positions.”
But unlike the recent search for the next Belmont Police Chief which focused on in-house applicants, “we are not just looking internally or just externally,” said Phelan, who was on the chief’s screening committee.
“We let the process take itself through and find out who the best candidate is and move from there,” he noted, pointing to Chenery Middle School Principal Mike McAllister as an internal applicant who beat out a large pool of outside contenders and Heidi Paisner-Roffman, the Wellington’s new principal who was an external candidate from Wayland who “knocked our socks off.”
“If you’re an internal candidate, you might have a slight edge but you’ve got to prove yourself,” said Phelan.