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Schools, Central Office Get New Leaders

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Schools, Central Office Get New Leaders
Posted on 06/21/2022
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The Portland Public Schools is getting four new assistant principals: Alberto Morales and Sarah Obare will be assistant principals at Portland High School; Farausi Cherry will be assistant principal at Lyman Moore Middle School; and Tricia Shorr will be assistant principal/literacy coach at Longfellow Elementary School. The Portland Board of Public Education formally approved the appointment of the new administrators at its June 21 meeting.

Also, Reiche Community School will have a new teacher leader: Charlie Marenghi. His position does not need Board approval because Marenghi is already a teacher at that teacher-led school.

In addition, Superintendent Xavier Botana has asked current Moore Assistant Principal Pamela Otunnu to join the district’s Academic Team as the Director of Secondary Academic Access and Outcomes. In that capacity, Otunnu will be charged with strengthening the district’s systems, structures and routines related to ensuring all students have access to rigorous and relevant instruction, with the necessary supports and scaffolds to authentically meet high standards. All six new appointments are effective July 1. 

“I am very pleased to have all six of these exemplary employees step into these key leadership positions,” Superintendent Xavier Botana said. “All of them already have strong connections to the Portland Public Schools, and we’re happy to have them become part of our leadership team as we embark on the 2022-2023 school year. Their knowledge, skills, and experiences will bring tremendous value to our efforts to achieve equity and ensure that all our students have an optimal learning experience.”

All are filling positions vacated for a variety of reasons. At Portland High School, one position has been vacant since the Board voted unanimously on March 8 not to renew the contract of longtime Assistant Principal Kimberly Holmes. The second Portland High position will open up when Assistant Principal Jade Costello leaves June 30 to become assistant principal at Gray-New Gloucester High School.

At Longfellow Elementary School, current Assistant Principal Holly Johnson is leaving to become principal at Pownal Elementary School.

At Reiche Community School, which is led by three teachers, Teacher Leader Ted Hummel is returning to the classroom at that school. Marenghi, a current teacher at Reiche, will step into the teacher leader role. Marenghi will serve alongside teacher leaders Lori Bobinsky and Annie Dalphin. Reiche's teacher leader model calls for growing leadership from within.

At Lyman Moore Middle School, Farausi Cherry is taking over the assistant principal role that Pamela Otunnu has held at Moore since early 2021.

As Director of Secondary Academic Access and Outcomes, Otunnu will be filling an existing position that has been newly restructured to better define its scope. It has evolved from the position held by Academic Supports and Transitions Coordinator Molly Myers, who is transitioning out of that position this summer to pursue other goals.

Botana said he invited Otunnu to join the Academic Team at Central Office because of her desire to affect systems-level transformation. “I believe this role capitalizes on her unique perspectives, skill sets and motivations,” Botana said.

In her new role, Otunnu will be charged with strengthening district systems, structures and routines related to ensuring all students have access to rigorous and relevant instruction with the necessary supports and scaffolds to authentically meet high standards, Botana said. “She will be partnering with schools and the Academic Team to ensure we hold an aligned vision for what we mean by graduating students ‘prepared and empowered’; shoring up our district-wide approach to RTI/MTSS at the middle and high school levels; supporting data structures and routines to monitor progress and action plan for students falling off track; and ensuring schools have robust supports to enable all students to access rigorous and relevant instruction,” he said.

More information on the newly appointed administrators is below:

Farausi Cherry, Assistant Principal, Lyman Moore Middle School: Farausi Cherry has been with the Portland Public Schools for six years, serving as a school counselor at Deering High School. During this time, Farausi also has filled a variety of other roles at Deering: Black Student Union faculty advisor; Project Graduation coordinator; Senate class advisor; head varsity Unified Basketball coach; and Saturday SAT site coordinator. Outside of his work at the Portland Public Schools, Farausi has served as a community member of the Gorham Anti-Racist Advisory Subcommittee of the Gorham School Committee. Farausi advocates for justice and to eliminate the social divide.
His prior experience includes being a school counselor at Windham and Lewiston High Schools. He holds a master’s degree in school counseling and education from the University of Southern Maine and a certificate of graduate studies as assistant principal from the University of Southern Maine.
Farausi encourages students to give back to the community through volunteering. He leads by example by participating annually as a volunteer official for the running long jump event at the Maine Summer Special Olympic Games. In his leisure time, Farausi enjoys spending time with family, traveling, playing basketball, shopping, listening to music and dancing, baking, and laughing.

Charlie Marenghi, Teacher Leader, Reiche Community School: Charlie Marenghi has been a teacher in Portland Public Schools since 2006. He has taught at East End Community School, Peaks Island School, and, for the last six years, has been a math coach and classroom teacher at Reiche Community School. Charlie has served as a PEA representative and been a member of various leadership teams during this time, and looks forward to continuing the great work of Portland's only teacher-led school. He believes that teacher empowerment and student-centered learning makes Reiche an inspiring and unique place to work. Charlie holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and a master's degree in education from Cambridge College in Massachusetts. Outside of school, Charlie is a theater director, writer and keen follower of his children's high school sports careers. He lives in South Portland with his beloved wife and three children.

Alberto Morales, Assistant Principal, Portland High School: Alberto Morales has been a public school teacher for 23 years, two decades of which has been with the Portland Public Schools. He comes to Portland High School after teaching English for the last 11 years at Casco Bay High School. Prior to that, he taught both English and Spanish at Deering High School for seven years, and taught Spanish at Portland, Reiche, Adams, and Lyseth schools for two years before that.
In addition to teaching, Alberto has been involved in many of the Portland Public Schools’ equity efforts. He co-teaches a Race In the United States class for teachers and administrators in the district, as well as being a part of the Equity Cohort work at PPS. He has also participated in efforts to recruit teachers of color in the district and is collaborating with a Bowdoin College professor on interviewing teachers of color in the district to gain perspectives to inform retention and recruitment efforts. He has also coached high school Ultimate Frisbee the last 16 years here in Portland. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and education from Boston College and is currently in the leadership cohort at the University of Southern Maine. He also has mentored in-service teachers from both USM and Bowdoin. He looks forward to preserving and deepening the best of Portland High School’s traditions, academic excellence, and extracurriculars while growing the school's efforts to support each and every student's particular path to achieving high standards, and recognizing their unique greatness and gifts.
In his free time, Alberto plays Ultimate Frisbee, basketball, takes guitar lessons, hangs out with his family, and tries to read as many comic books as possible. Alberto has lived in South Portland with his wife and three children for the last twenty years, but is a native New Yorker.

Sarah Obare, Assistant Principal, Portland High School: Sarah Obare joined the Portland Public Schools in 2009 as a mathematics teacher at Deering High School. For the past nine years, she has served as a teacher leader at Portland High School, leading the ninth-grade team and teaching mathematics. Before joining the district, she taught at both the middle and high school levels in Baltimore and throughout Maine.
Sarah has served on many Portland Public Schools’ committees focused on equity, teacher evaluation, and the transition from middle to high school. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Maine at Farmington and a master’s of arts in teaching: secondary mathematics from Johns Hopkins University. She was recommended by PPS for the Leaders for Tomorrow’s Schools cohort at the University of Southern Maine and in 2017 earned a certificate of advanced study in educational leadership. She is passionate about creating more equitable schools by analyzing data and systems to ensure all students have access to opportunities and success.
Sarah lives in Portland with her husband and sons, who have attended Rowe, Talbot, Lincoln, and Portland High School. She is honored to have been chosen as an assistant principal by Portland High staff, students, and parents.

Pamela Otunnu, Director of Secondary Academic Access and Outcomes: Pamela joined the district in 2014 as a math teacher at King Middle School, where she also coached track, and has been a math and ELL teacher at Deering High School since 2017. She also served as the district’s STEM coordinator from 2015-2018; was a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow Instructional Mentor Teacher from 2016-2017; and was Deering High School’s Model UN co-advisor from 2018 to 2020.
Pamela also taught math at Brunswick Junior High School, where she was the Civil Rights Team coach from 2013-2014. She also served on the MEA Human, Civil and Cultural Affairs Committee from 2012-2015, and became a Woodrow Wilson-RBF Fellow in 2012.
Pamela holds a master’s degree in education and bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern Maine. She also earned a certificate of graduate study in teaching English as a Second Language. She is a graduate of the Portland Public Schools. Pamela believes that education is a human right and has said that standing up for the rights of students is her first priority.

Tricia Shorr, Assistant Principal/Literacy Coach, Longfellow Elementary School: Tricia Shorr joined the Portland Public Schools as special education teacher at Longfellow Elementary in 2017. For the past five school years, she has also served as the Special Education Liaison for the district and been an integral part of several school-based teams including PBIS, Response to Intervention, the Equitable Math Facilitation Team, and the Literacy Assessment Strategy Team. Tricia has worked in elementary education for the last fourteen years. Her previous experience includes nine years working at an elementary school in East Harlem, New York. At this school, she held various leadership roles and worked as a peer instructional coach in addition to being an inclusion classroom teacher.
Tricia holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Southern Maine; a master’s degree in special education inclusion from the State University of New York at Albany; and a bachelor’s degree in childhood education from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. 
Tricia lives in South Portland with her husband and their new baby girl. She enjoys traveling, skiing, and enjoying all Maine has to offer.
PHOTOS: Pictured clockwise, from top left, are Farausi Cherry,  Charlie Marenghi, Sarah Obare, Tricia Shorr, Pamela Otunnu and Alberto Morales.
Farausi Cherry Charlie Marenghi Alberto Morales  Sarah Obare Pamela Otunnu Tricia Shorr

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.