4/10/2020 10:56:00 AM NB names two finalists for superintendent position; Sara Paul chosen
North Branch School Board selected two finalists to invite to a second round of interviews today (April 9) in the search for a successor to Deb Henton, Superintendent. Dr. Henton notified the Board in January that she had accepted a job elsewhere and this school year would be her last. Henton’s been with North Branch since 2007.
The School Board used the Internet to connect with three candidates for interviews last week, Thursday afternoon, April 2.
It is expected that once the second round with the two finalists is completed today, the School Board will convene and make an offer. The two advancing to today’s interviews are Sara Paul and Christina Bemboom.
The search firm Big River, was hired to recruit applicants and about 25 were evaluated by school district committees and three finalists were selected. Company associate Bruce Miles asked the questions April 2 that had been submitted. Each of the three in the first group got 40 minutes with the board members via remote connections.
The district’s YouTube channel carried last week’s interviews and will have April 9 video. First up is Bemboom at 3:20 p.m., followed by Paul. ~ Sara Paul is with the White Bear Lake District.
She describes her management style as collaborative and “...providing space for the conversations to happen.”
She shared an experience where the White Bear lake district, Century College and the Chamber of Commerce cooperated on winning a grant to fund an autonomous (self-driving) vehicle acquisition. The college and school district communicate regularly, she stated, and officials were advised that technology like this is advancing and K-12 education needs to keep up.
Paul said in her April 2 interview that she thinks about the kindergarteners entering now who are the Class of 2033, and what the future will require of them.
Paul also looks to “align resources” wherever possible and involves non-profit and foundation partners to broaden options for White Bear students.
She noted that students needing remedial classes after graduation went from 30 percent to 17 percent using recent innovations in the district.
On the subject of involving families in the district she said White Bear Lake District holds a parent-teacher conference right off the bat, at the start of the school year. It “grounds the relationship” between the instructors and parents.
Christina Bemboom is with Eden Prairie Schools.
Bemboom is a leader who relies on data she said, but from the analysis of data she likes to get input from out of the box. The most creative ideas and concepts come from an initial thought that’s out of the mainstream and then gets reeled in.
School Board members’ images came up on-line as they reviewed the completed interview process and Bemboom’s comments on her research and knowledge of North Branch Schools and some of its programming, obviously impressed members.
Her district has implemented community outreach that Board members appreciated, such as the “welcome center” for incoming families, and the public accessibility to district officials. The North Branch community superintendent search feedback survey had identified a general desire among the public for a superintendent who had more of a presence in the community.
Big River consultant Bruce Miles and the Board agreed to spend another 40 minutes or so with Bemboom and Paul (April 9.)
The regular board meeting will convene as soon as this set of interviews finishes at 5:30 p.m. The School Board will vote on extending a contract to the final choice of a superintendent this week.
UPDATE: NB goes with Paul The North Branch School Board unanimously voted April 9 to extend an offer to Sara Paul for the district’s soon-to-be vacant superintendent position. Paul is assistant superintendent with White Bear Lake Schools now, and has worked as Associate Supt. of Minneapolis Public Schools, and has been a teacher and professional staff leader at District 622 in North St Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale. She resides in Maplewood.
Paul and Christina Bemboom were the two finalists completing the second round of interviews, done on the Internet just prior to the regular April 9 school board meeting.
Hiring consultant Bruce Miles applauded the speedy and comprehensive work done by the Board. North Branch administrators, staff and community leaders were part of the process to narrow the field from 25 applicants, to six, three and these final two candidates.
Miles complimented the Board members, saying in the midst of social distancing and switching North Branch education practices over to electronic means-- the Board “deserves credit for making this (superintendent search) work.”
Miles asked Board members to share plus and minus comments for each finalist when the interview phase ended. It was apparent the consensus leaned towards Paul.
She had explained in her interview that she is shifting from life in a large district, to the relatively smaller operations of North Branch ISD 138, on purpose. She wants to use her career to build from a good foundation, she wants to be able to bring out the best of district staff on more of an individual basis, and she said North Branch offers a very promising future. She also shared that while attending the girls’ state volleyball tournament she was impressed by the girls and the community support on display.
All board members stated they liked and respected both candidates and either would be an excellent selection. Consultant Miles said in the end it all comes down to “fit.”
Chair Kirby Ekstrom made the motion to offer the post to Sara Paul which was approved 6-0.
The school board will enter into contract talks with Paul, and it is expected she will begin serving as superintendent as of July 1, 2020, according to Patrick Tepoorten, district communications.