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Yarmouth picks R.I. educator for superintendent of schools

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Yarmouth picks R.I. educator for superintendent of schools

YARMOUTH — Judith J. Paolucci of Rhode Island was unanimously selected Monday to replace Ken Murphy as superintendent of schools.

Paolucci will be only the third superintendent Yarmouth has employed in almost 50 years. Murphy has worked in the district for 25 years and has been school chief for 18 years.  

Paolucci, 46, has been the assistant superintendent in the Narragansett, R.I., school system for six years, and was an adjunct professor at Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island. She was one of 25 candidates for the Yarmouth job, and was unanimously selected by a 14-member search committee.

The School Committee announced her selection Monday in a special meeting.

"I am so looking forward to coming to Maine," Paolucci said in a telephone interview. "This is a big move, but a great move for me."

School Committee Chairman Tim Wheaton said Paolucci had very strong recommendations from her colleagues.

"Judy was characterized as a talented and visionary educational leader, approachable and visible, collaborative and an effective problem-solver, focused on continuous improvement with a bias toward data-driven decision making, organized and hard working," Wheaton said. "A person of the highest integrity."

Narragansett School Committee member Ray Ranaldi said Yarmouth will gain a dedicated and knowledgeable superintendent.

"Judy will be a wonderful addition to your town," Ranaldi said in a telephone interview. "She has changed our school system and is a true ambassador for our schools and our students."

Ranaldi said Paolucci meets her goals and is always on task.

"She brought a new life to our school system," Ranaldi said. "She is thoughtful and thorough and is just such a nice person."

Paolucci said she feels strongly about helping her current school district make the transition, but will be in Maine as soon as she can to meet people and work through the transition with Murphy.

"This is a wise progression, and I am thankful to my superior who encouraged me to apply to the Yarmouth job," she said. "This comes at a time when I am ready to take that next step."

She said speaking to Murphy, meeting the search committee and realizing the similarities between the two communities made her feel like it would be a good fit.

Yarmouth and Narragansett  are both coastal towns with high-performing schools, and have about the same number of students and staff.

Paolucci said she found the work of the search committee to be thorough, and said the questions she was asked showed Yarmouth's strong commitment to finding the right person.

"I believe in the same set of values made clear by the search committee and community," she said. "It is important we connect on that level. Their pride in core values makes me confident that this is a great opportunity and an even better fit."

Town Manager Nat Tupper said Wheaton and the search team did an outstanding job providing the committee with information about the candidates. He said he was impressed with the way everyone worked together.

"It was a constructive and open process," Tupper said Monday. "The team worked well together, were honest and listened to students, teachers, parents, and taxpayers to find out what was needed in the new superintendent."

Murphy said the biggest piece of advice he could give Paolucci is to get to know the school system.

"In order to improve something, you have to know it intimately," he said.

Murphy said it is no concern to him that Paolucci is from outside of Maine. In fact, he said, it is an advantage to the school system.

"She will be able to provide our schools with a fresh set of eyes," Murphy said. "She will ask the right questions and bring a new perspective."

Paolucci, who holds a bachelor of science degree from Rhode Island College, a master's degree from Brown University and a doctorate in education from the University of Rhode Island, will take over as superintendent of schools on July 1. According to Wheaton, her two-year contract and salary will be finalized within the next few days.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net