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Pedersen to succeed Schall as Lawrence superintendent

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Lisa DePaola, a former Lawrence administrator, made a point of attending the board of education meeting on Nov. 14 to speak about Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen’s appointment as the district’s superintendent.

DePaola, now the assistant to the superintendent for Instructional Services and Administration in the Plainedge School District, said that Pedersen is an educational leader that has high expectations but looks to mentor administrators so they can help ensure that teachers can instruct their students to obtain success.

“From the minute I walked through the door of Lawrence High School, Dr. Pedersen mentored me and helped me become the administrator I am today,” DePaola said. “I am so lucky and proud to have worked for her and with her, and I am so happy for her tonight. She’s one of the hardest working people I know.”

Superintendent Gary Schall called his successor Lawrence’s “chief academician” and said that test scores in the district are on an upward trajectory due to her work that is “second to none.” “The success is attributable to the brilliance of Dr. Pedersen working with the administrators and our teachers,” he said. Schall, the district’s educational leader for the past five years, will officially step down on June 30. He added that the transition will be “seamless.”

Longtime Trustee Dr. David Sussman noted that Pedersen joined the school district 24 years ago and helped to bring Lawrence together following years of what he termed “strife” when the district endured a period of turmoil as local demographics changed and more Orthodox Jewish community members were elected to the board.

“The job you have done is incredible,” Sussman said about Pedersen who has doubled as the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and principal of the Lawrence Early Childhood Center at the Number Four School. “You give praise to everyone else and do it in a very unassuming way as well as building up others.”

Dr. Asher Mansdorf, the board’s vice president, cited Pedersen’s ability to understand and listen as the keys to her success. “I believe together with the board and Dr. Pedersen it will put us on a trajectory that will allow us to succeed,” Mansdorf said.