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Portland To Get New Assistant Superintendent

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Portland To Get New Assistant Superintendent July 1
Posted on 03/29/2019
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Aaron L. Townsend, an innovative educator with nearly 20 years of educational experience as a teacher, school leader and system leader in Maine and California, has been selected as the new Assistant Superintendent for School Management for the Portland Public Schools, Superintendent Xavier Botana announced March 29.

Townsend, currently a senior associate with the Great Schools Partnership in Portland, will officially begin his role on July 1.  He will be taking over the job from Assistant Superintendent for School Management Jeanne Crocker, who is retiring at the end of this school year.

“I am very excited to have Aaron join our team,” Botana said. “He has had a distinguished career and emerged at the top of a very competitive candidate pool as the person with the right combination of knowledge, skills and experience to continue to move our district forward.”

Botana praised Crocker for her leadership in the position, which she first held beginning in 2014. In 2015, when a sudden vacancy in the superintendent position occurred, Crocker stepped in as the district’s interim superintendent for one year. She returned to the assistant superintendent position after Botana became superintendent in 2016, and has continued to use her skills and expertise to provide continuity for the district, delaying her retirement plans until now. Botana said Crocker became “a personal sounding board” for district staff, trying to listen to and talk to as many as she could, often in personal one-on-one communications.

“We are deeply grateful to Jeanne for her willingness to stay on and assist us throughout a transitional period,” Botana said. “Jeanne Crocker is irreplaceable because of everything she has meant to the district.”

Botana said that Townsend will begin coordinating with Crocker during the transition period and that he expects Townsend will make the position his own. “Aaron will forge a new path,” Botana said. “He has experience coaching school leaders and teachers to increase their effectiveness and helping school communities redesign programs and transform outcomes, particularly for underserved students and communities. I am confident that he will be an effective and valuable member of our team.”

Townsend said, “I am excited to be joining the Portland Public Schools at this moment and to continue working in Maine. The Portland community is wonderfully diverse, and this is a great opportunity to collaborate with an amazing community of students, families, teachers and leaders to achieve the goals of the Portland Promise. In this role in particular, I look forward to supporting each of the school leaders across the city to ensure that each school enables the healthy development and academic achievement of every learner."

Townsend started his educational career in 1996 as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan, working as an English teacher and program outreach program director. He returned to Maine, and in 1999 began working as a social studies teacher for Auburn Middle School, where he had previously been a student, and then became a service learning coordinator for the Auburn schools. He started working for the Oakland (California) Unified School District in 2002 as a lead teacher and went on to become a school and district leader who led innovative school improvement initiatives.

He became the founding principal of the Oakland Unified district’s Coliseum College Prep Academy and led that school’s transformation from a low-performing middle school into one of the top secondary schools in the city. He then led the transformation of four district middle schools through the district’s Office of School Transformation. Townsend next joined the district’s human resources division, becoming the Deputy Chief of Talent Management and helping to transform the department into a Talent Development Division to find, keep and grow extraordinary educators for district students and families. In 2016, he became a senior consultant for the High School Redesign Initiative of California-based Pivot Learning, leveraging his varied experiences to support school transformation across California and Massachusetts. He returned to Maine, where he plans to live and raise his family, and joined the Great Schools Partnership in 2018. That nonprofit works to redesign public education and improve learning for all students.