EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 4, 2014

'Specialist' hired to boost schools' MCAS scores

Director will start July 1,has $125,000 annual salary

HAVERHILL -— A Washington educator with a history of working at urban school districts with large minority populations has been hired as the city’s director of school improvement and accountability — a new position that is third in the district’s administrative hierarchy below only the superintendent and assistant superintendent.

Jonathan Letcher is scheduled to begin working here full-time July 1 with a starting salary of $125,000 per year, Superintendent James Scully said.

The School Committee created the new position for Letcher last month to focus on improving student performance at several schools with habitually poor test scores. Letcher had applied for the assistant superintendent position that went to Julie Kukenberger last month.

Letcher is principal of Hazel Valley Elementary School in the Highline School District in Washington state. That school includes 630 students in kindergarten to grade six and is one of the most diverse schools in the country, with students who speak 18 different languages, according to Letcher’s resume. More than 80 percent of students at the school meet federal poverty guidelines, his resume said.

In his resume, Letcher said his mission and vision at Hazel Valley Elementary was “to create and direct formal structures which resulted in significant academic and behavioral successes despite a 30 percent increase in the poverty rate.”

Student suspensions also decreased during Letcher’s tenure there from 132 prior to his arrival in 2006 to six last year, his resume said.

Prior to working in the Highline School District, Letcher was a school improvement officer in Washington, D.C. He also has been a classroom teacher in Maryland and a school principal in Virginia, his resume said.

Letcher has experience working with special needs children, aligning curriculum and overseeing teacher training program, his resume said.

Scully said Letcher has family in the northeast and has already starting looking for a home in the area.

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