The Norwin School Board has narrowed its choice for its next superintendent to two experienced administrators — the Mars Area superintendent and a North Hills assistant superintendent.
Both finalists for the job — Wesley Shipley, 52, a Scottdale native, and Jeffrey Taylor, 46, a Canonsburg-area native — told the school board, teacher representatives, administrators and community leaders on Wednesday that they have the collaborative leadership skills to move the district forward.
The district is seeking to replace William Kerr, who last November announced his plans to retire at the end of the school year.
The district had more than 20 candidates apply for the position, said board president Barbara Viola, and may vote on the candidates on April 15.
Shipley, a Southmoreland graduate, has been the Mars Area superintendent since July 2015 and previously was superintendent at Shaler Area for four years. He was assistant superintendent at Shaler Area for two years and taught in the Deer Lakes and Freeport Area.
There is “room for growth” at Norwin, even though the district is 21st in the region in terms of the state assessment scores and 95th statewide in all Keystone tests combined, Shipley said.
The district needs a curriculum that prepares students to understand the text, not teaching to the test, he added.
Shipley praised Norwin’s robust mental health and guidance programs.
“You have to teach to take care of the whole child,” Shipley said.
Taylor, a Canon-McMillan graduate who has been in education for 25 years, said he brings the experience of being an assistant superintendent in a growing district with similar demographics as Norwin. Both North Hills and Norwin have multiple schools and serve multiple municipalities.
“I have lived in and and worked in a relatively high-performing school district” like Norwin, which is known statewide for its STEM program and has an exemplary arts program, Taylor said.
He was named the assistant superintendent for curriculum, assessment and special programs in 2012, then had elementary education added to his responsibilities in 2016.
Taylor had been a biology teacher at Fort Cherry for two years before moving to Baldwin-Whitehall for six years, until 1996. He was an assistant high school principal and high school principal at Charleroi Area.
Taylor said he has expertise in curriculum and assessment, as well as in creating high quality professional development.
Norwin must set new goals to continue growth, and those goals, tied to curriculum, “mirror my strength,” Taylor said.