Ellen Quirk patiently waited outside the Wellington Elementary's lunch room Monday night, Oct. 23, watching as parents and students wandered in around 7 p.m. ready to fire questions at one of the two finalist to succeed Amy Wagner to become the Wellington's new principal.
But for the teacher and administrator at Lexington's Bowman Elementary, Belmont has been a destination she knows something about.
Quirk's husband is a past Belmont resident and attended the "old" Wellington school as a student coming away with many great memories there. She also was a finalist to be the Burbank Elementary's principal two years ago.
"This is a bit like a homecoming with my husband having been at the 'old' school and this is my second time to experience how committed Belmont is to a top educational program," said Quirk.
"It was a disappointment that I wasn't chosen but I gained a great deal of respect for the district and the education being taught here.
Quirk is one of two finalists out of thousands who sent in resumes and of survived the penultimate round of cuts against 17 other semi-finalists. Amy Spangler, the other candidate, will be interviewed on Wednesday.
Belmont Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston will work with Assistant Superintendent Janice Darias and the screening committee on deciding on Friday, Oct. 26, to offer the position to one of the candidates or assign an interim principal a reinstate the search process.
She currently holds down two jobs at the Bowman, as a fifth-grade teacher and the assistant principal. Before becoming an assistant principal, Quirk was a fourth-grade teacher at the school.
Prior to her experience in Lexington, Bowman was a fourth-grade teacher in the Acton public school system and spent a year as a fifth-grade teacher in an independent school in Andover. Quirk matriculated at Vanderbilt University and received a Master’s from Lesley University.
Earlier this year, Quirk was one of three finalists to be the principal of the Zervas Elementary School in Newton.
"It is a great honor that they feel that you have the talent to run a school," said Quirk.
Quirk said keeping a hand in teaching (only a class or two a quarter) while transferring to administration at her current position has provided a great opportunity to see how the new state-mandated teachers evaluation system is established on the individual school level and then implemented.
"We are developing the (evaluation) system in Lexington while (Belmont) is further along," said Quirk, who said she would emphasize the benefits of this "important" transformation in teacher appraisal, pointing to the use of Professional Learning Teams to elevate all educators performance-levels.
"But a school is more just teacher evaluations, it's about learning and that is what I will be committed to," said Quirk.