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Editorial: A decisive selection for superintendent

We were glad to see that the School Committee acted decisively in picking Jordana Harper-Ewert to replace Susan Hollins as Greenfield Public Schools superintendent.

We know there had been an undercurrent of concern as finalists for the job dropped out of the process. Would having just two candidates allow present the committee with the kind of choices — let alone the right choice — when it came to hiring the district’s next leader?

And should the committee have some kind of fall-back option, like an interim superintendent if a qualified individual didn’t emerge from the pair of finalists?

As it turns out, thankfully, Greenfield didn’t have to get to “what do we do now?”

Credit the two finalists — Harper-Ewert and James O’Shea — for seeing the Greenfield job as an opportunity worth exploring.

As Harper-Ewert put it during her interview, “People are beginning to look at Greenfield and say, ‘That’s a place where I want my children to go to school.’”

That’s a view that hasn’t always been true. But through plenty of hard work by Hollins, her administrative staff, teachers, students, their families and members of the community who care about Greenfield schools, the district is stronger and better.

Credit, too, goes to the committee in recognizing the opportunity that presented itself in finding Hollins’ replacement. During her tenure, the groundwork has been laid for improving learning throughout the schools. It is now up to the new superintendent to build upon what is here and create a new and even better climate for learning.

From what we have seen, Harper-Ewert brings intelligence, passion and energy to the table, qualities that have helped her move up in public education in what could be seen as a short time. As someone who lives and works in western Massachusetts, she should understand the challenges that schools here face.

Both Harper-Ewert and O’Shea presented themselves as strong candidates who have the interests of students at heart. The committee unanimously, however, saw qualities in Harper-Ewert that made her a better fit for Greenfield.

It’s one thing to have a candidate impress you but it’s another to come away thinking that the person could be a game changer. Hearing one school board member describe Harper-Ewert as a “rockstar” is an indication that she has made quite the impression already.

We expect there will be more to come once she is on the job, and we welcome her to the community.

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