Beal principal named new assistant superintendent


Beal principal named new assistant superintendent
Principal Christian Girardi speaks during the dedication of the new Beal Elementary School in 2021. Girardi has been tapped to be the next assistant superintendent of operations and finance. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – Christian Girardi has been chosen to be the next assistant superintendent of operations and finance for Shrewsbury Public Schools.

Girardi, the sole finalist for the position, was recommended by Superintendent Joseph Sawyer and approved by a unanimous vote of the School Committee at its March 15 meeting. He will succeed Patrick Collins, who will retire effective June 30.

For the past decade, Girardi has served as principal at the Major Howard W. Beal School, beginning when it was an early childhood education center. He played a key leadership role in the development of the elementary school building project and led the transition to the opening of the new Beal Elementary School in 2021.

“He showed tremendous leadership during that process and then building that new community from scratch as the principal,” said Sawyer.

According to Sawyer, there were 21 applicants for the position, and the process was overseen by consultant Anthony Bent of the New England School Development Council. Bent served 15 years as Shrewsbury superintendent.

Bent narrowed the field of 21 to six semifinalists, who were interviewed by a screening committee made up of district personnel as well as Town Manager Kevin Mizikar. That committee recommended three finalists.

“Unfortunately, one of those three candidates, when offered to move forward as a finalist, decided to remain in their current position and withdrew,” said Sawyer.

That left as finalists Girardi and David Gordon, who is the director of finance for the Westborough Public Schools. However, in the days before the interviews, Gordon withdrew his candidacy, citing family reasons, according to Sawyer.

“Which left us in a … situation that we usually don’t have, which is having one finalist,” said Sawyer. “But we felt it was important to follow the process. And so the next stage of the process was for Mr. Girardi to take part in a daylong series of interviews.”

On March 6, Girardi was interviewed by numerous district personnel, many of whom he would be interacting with as assistant superintendent. This included a one-on-one interview with Sawyer. On March 8, he was interviewed by the School Committee.

Despite Girardi not having “hands-on” financial management experience, Sawyer told the committee he felt he would bring many strengths to the position and would be shepherded through the onboarding process and subsequent learning curve period by personnel within the district.

Principal Chris Girardi greets students as they come off the bus.
Principal Chris Girardi greets students as they come off the bus on the first day of school in the new Beal. 
(Photo/Laura Hayes)

“Mr. Collins has set a very high bar. But in my estimation, Mr. Girardi is a candidate whose leadership characteristics are an excellent match for what people indicated they were looking for in this role,” he said. “And frankly [he has] a skill set that is pretty rare among leaders. He’s an extraordinary school leader, an educational leader and someone who, I think, is ready to become an overarching organizational leader.”

Members of the School Committee echoed Sawyer’s praise of Girardi and were solid in their support of his candidacy.

“Looking at the strengths he brings from an operational side and then looking at the onboarding process that has been laid out, it gives me … a good confidence that this is the right fit for the role,” said member Sandra Fryc.

“I felt he interviewed very well,” said member Jon Wensky. “He was very transparent. He understands where that learning curve is, and he has both a short-term and long-term plan to address it.”

“I also support this recommendation. I think Mr. Girardi will bring a principal’s lens to these operations, which I think will be very valuable,” added member Erin Boucher.

Girardi will be starting his new position July 1, but he will be meeting with Collins regularly in the coming months to smooth the transition. While Collins will no longer be employed by the district after June 30, he has said he would make himself available to Girardi through the summer months.

Sawyer said the next priority will be to start the search process for a new Beal principal.


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