After interviewing 11 very competitive candidates for this important role for the Arlington Public Schools, the committee is pleased to share these three finalists with the community for consideration in a rigorous round of finals, to take place on January 24th and 25th. The final round will include school visits, virtual forums with stakeholders, visits to the central office, and a performance task. More information about the final round and how to participate will be shared the week of January 16th.
Mona Ford Walker: Monakatellia Ford Walker is a proud graduate of the Boston Public Schools, where she also began her teaching career. Her passion for education is fueled by her familial history in public education and her own educational experiences as a student. Her desire to ensure all children reach their infinite potential, have access to rigorous learning opportunities, and attain academic success is cemented in her work throughout the public school system. Mona is currently completing her Doctoral Residency in Revere Public Schools, where she is focusing her work on Special Education. Prior to this, she was principal of Winship Elementary School in Boston, which was designated a 2018 and 2019 Massachusetts School of Recognition school and a 2021 National Blue Ribbon school. Mona firmly believes in equity and student-centered learning, and is committed to ensuring all children acquire the knowledge and develop the skills and habits necessary to prepare them to succeed in college, career and life. Mona holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Temple University, M.S. in Elementary Education from Cambridge College, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Simmons College, and she will be receiving a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Harvard University in the spring. Ms. Ford Walker’s candidate materials can be found here.
Thad Dingman: Thad has been an educator for the last 20 years, beginning in Colorado and now in Massachusetts. After earning his undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology, he relocated to Boulder, CO earning his Masters in Elementary Education from Regis University. During his time, Thad served as an assistant preschool director and elementary public school teacher in the Boulder Valley School District. Thad moved into educational leadership after completing his Administrative Leadership and Policy Work with the University of Colorado at Denver. His first four years of the principalship were spent with the Berkshire Hills Regional School District in western Massachusetts. Most recently, Thad is serving in his 9th year in the Arlington Public School District as principal of Dallin Elementary School, an amazing community of K-5 elementary school students, families, and teachers. Thad’s interests have always been in the area of continuous improvement and inclusive school communities, as an educator and as a human. In addition to his role as a building leader, Thad has partnered with district administration to identify and repair equity issues spanning from special education disproportionality to culturally responsive teaching and learning. Thad is also the husband of a fellow Arlington Public School teacher and the father of three school-age children who attend school in APS. When he’s not teaching, reading, cooking, coaching, or dog walking, he enjoys being outside and eating good food. Mr. Dingman’s candidate materials can be found here.
Damon Smith: Damon Smith is serving in his 12th year as the Principal of The Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (CRLS) in Cambridge, MA. Principal Smith has guided the school community through campus renovation, NEASC accreditation, transition to a 1:1 student device environment and the COVID pandemic. He worked with staff and stakeholders to develop the Level Up program which enrolls and supports 9th grade students in honors level English and History courses. Under his supervision CRLS has expanded interscholastic athletics, co-curricular programming, social emotional and mental health supports for students. Prior to his principalship, Smith served as a Dean of Curriculum and Program at CRLS. Before joining the Cambridge Public Schools in 2004, he was the Assistant School Director at New Mission High School in the Boston Public Schools. Smith is a Wesleyan University graduate, and earned a Master’s degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He completed the Principal Residency Network Program at Northeastern University for his Principal’s licensure and prepared for the Superintendency in the inaugural cohort of the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Influence 100 program. Damon comes from a family of educators; both his mother and father were public school educators in New York City. His wife is also an educator in the Cambridge Public Schools and they reside in Cambridge with their two sons. Mr. Smith’s candidate materials can be found here
Please join us in congratulating our finalists and welcoming them to Arlington for the final round of interviews!