Sole HHS principal finalist interviewed: ‘There has to be trust’

Alan Strauss

June 12, 2024 By Carol Britton Meyer

Alan Strauss, superintendent of the Freetown Lakeville Regional School District since July 2022 — was interviewed during a Hingham Public Schools virtual community forum Tuesday night as the only remaining finalist in the search for a new Hingham High School principal to replace Rick Swanson, who recently announced his plan to resign.

Robert Shaw — former principal of North Quincy High School and currently the high school principal at the online Education Cooperative Connections Academy in Walpole — was scheduled to participate in another community forum on Wednesday, June 12, as the second finalist.

However, he withdrew his application after signing a contract with Hull Public Schools on Monday as the new principal of Hull High School.

At one point, there were 51 people participating in the Zoom meeting. In answering questions from the community posed by Asst. Supt. of Curriculum and Instruction Katie Roberts, Strauss placed great value on building trust among the entire school community.

‘It’s about kindness and empathy on both sides’
“Once contract negotiations are settled there will be a big “Ah!” — we know that — for the teachers, the kids, and the community.

My responsibility would be to make sure people can move forward after that,” he said. “Discourse with respect and transparency is important. People can agree or disagree, but the key is to bring them to the table to decide how to move forward together. It’s about empathy and kindness on both sides. I trust that people will come together.”

With regard to school climate, Strauss said this happens “one day at a time. There has to be trust.”

At the beginning of the interview, he shared that following treatment for leukemia last year, which he said “changed everything” — he’s “in a really good place now physically.”

Earlier this year, during a period of reflection, he decided to return to his “real joy” — serving in a principal role. “I love kids and working with staff and families, and that’s why I’m here [interviewing for the HHS position],” he said.

‘Our work as allies is important’
Hingham reminds Strauss of Fairfield, Conn., where he grew up. “Hingham’s progressiveness impressed me. I was DEI [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion] director for the Weymouth school district. Someone said Hingham High School is not [very] diverse, but our work as allies is just as important.”

Prior to his current position, Strauss served in the roles of Weymouth high school and middle school principals from 2017 to 2022. He earlier was principal of the Gilbert School in Winsted, Conn. for grades 7 through 12 and Windsor High School vice principal (also in Connecticut), among other positions.

So far, Strauss has been impressed by the upcoming Junteenth event, “the top-knotch sports and academics, and [the focus on] social emotional learning,” and considers the HHS principal position to be “a great opportunity and a great fit with my other experiences.”

If offered the position, he would focus in part on building relationships with school staff, students, Hingham businesses, and the community at large during his first 12 weeks on the job.

With regard to adapting the curriculum to individual student’s strengths, Strauss — the father of a son with special needs — said it’s important to “think differently for each student and to prepare them for their future [based on their individual strengths].”

Because of the change in the HHS leadership with Swanson’s resignation, Strauss said he would also focus on the Class of 2025 — “getting to know the seniors and having conversations with them to ensure they are comfortable with the college application process.”

‘Students are more trusting than we think’
“The students are used to Principal Swanson — he has a great reputation,” Strauss said. “[I will be thinking about how] I can build upon that. Students are more trusting than we think. They just want to hear that we care. During the first 12 weeks [if he is chosen to fill the role], students won’t care that I am there, but they will see that I am, which will lead to trust. I also have an open door policy.”

When asked about the “culture of belonging,” Strauss responded, “The fact that I’m a straight white male doesn’t mean I can’t be an ally. I’ve been involved with social justice work [for years]. My responsibility would be to help set the table and work with whomever to find out what the needs are and work with the staff [to meet them]. The student voice is the most important thing.”

Roberts expressed appreciation for the screening committee’s efforts, and noted there is an additional opportunity for feedback, which will be accepted until this Friday.

Swanson will remain at HHS until Aug. 1 to help with the transition once a new principal is named.

4 thoughts on “Sole HHS principal finalist interviewed: ‘There has to be trust’”

  1. Can someone answer why hasn’t the final candidate been hired? I’ve heard a rumor that the superintendent who has a very public vote went against the committee…🤔 the candidate seems amazing from the 100 messages I’ve read on here. If lots of people who attended the parent forum say he’s excellent he should be hired!!! Hingham deserves the best available candidate. Hingham deserves to have the best available candidate, not a friend of the superintendent

  2. If his students, even one in town who he taught a long time ago, say he is amazing what is the problem. Great administrators are hard to find

  3. If Mr. Strauss’s students, even those he taught long ago, praise his excellence, why hesitate? Exceptional administrators are rare, and given the feedback, it’s difficult to understand not securing him before another district does. I was deeply touched by his former students’ support. We know that when principals deeply impact their students, they thrive. Isn’t that exactly what Hingham wants?

  4. Can we stop implying that being a “straight white male” is something to be ashamed of? I know this is the approved narrative that people are supposed to sing…but it’s time to stop.

    Focus on education, not a person’s race (or sex, or sexual preference).


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