‘This decision today gives us hope’: Providence Teachers Union pleased with interim superintendent pick
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Governor Dan McKee and Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green announced Tuesday the appointment of a new interim superintendent of Providence Public Schools.
Dr. Javier Montañez, current principal of Leviton Dual Language School, will serve as interim superintendent while RIDE searches for a permanent superintendent.
The Providence Teachers Union said they’re pleased with the announcement, and are excited for the future of the district with Dr. Montañez at the helm.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement. I know members know Dr. Montañez and there’s a lot of trust,” said Jeremy Sencer, vice president at large of the Providence Teachers Union. “He’s a Providence person, he builds communities. So, anybody who’s been in his school knows that he builds communities for students and families as well as the staff in the building.”
Dr. Montañez is an alum of Providence schools himself, and was even homeless as a student, going to school just to get two meals a day.
He dropped out of Hope High School but later earned his GED. He went on to earn a Masters of Education from Rhode Island College and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Johnson & Wales University.
Sencer said it’s his background that makes Dr. Montañez an excellent fit.
“We saw this when the Commissioner came here. Having someone who’s a true role model, who looks like our students, who’s reflective of our students’ background is…that’s strong. That’s meaningful for our students,” Sencer said. “Dr. Montanez is able to talk to students and connect with them in a real way because he can speak with our students in a way where it’s authentic. They know that they’re talking with somebody who’s been where they are, and now he’s a doctor, right? He’s a PhD. He’s a leader.”
Dr. Montañez has spent a decade leading the dual-language school and started teaching in Providence in 1997.
Sencer said he’s seen firsthand how Montañez leads his school.
“He supports students in their learning actively by participating in lessons, I’ve personally been a part of lessons with him. You feel really good when you go into the building. If that’s the kind of energy he’s going to bring to the district, I think it’s exactly what we need.”
He said he and other members of the union hope Montañez will consider applying to the permanent superintendent position.
“I think a lot of our teachers would feel hopeful that not only is this a situation where he gets to continue his service to the district as interim, but that he would be eligible and taken seriously as a candidate to become our superintendent.”
Sencer added that he’s hopeful there will be collaboration going forward on improving the district now that the union has a partner at the table in Dr. Montañez.
“It’s amazing how just that little spark, you know, you hear something like this and people say… Huh, this could be our superintendent. This could be the vision. This could be the kind of community we all want. This decision today gives us hope that we’re going to be at the point where we can collaborate. That we have a partner willing at the table. I think the choice itself shows a willingness.”