About 1,000 miles separate Ontario, Canada, where Brooke Clenchy was born and raised, from the Outer Cape, where she will soon become the Nauset Regional School District’s interim superintendent.
And there have been many stops along the way, each leading her to where she will land in July.
Clenchy began her career as a teacher. From 1982 to 1999, she worked at nearly every grade level, offering instruction in English, French as a second language, social studies, arts, instrumental music, and choral music.
“I wanted to have a positive impact, and I did that as a teacher,” said Clenchy this week. “I thought I could do that as a principal.” So, she made the move to administration.
After just a couple of years in that role, she was tapped to fill an acting director’s position — the U.S. equivalent of superintendent — overseeing several community schools in her district.
She enjoyed the role and decided to pursue further opportunities as a top district official. That, coupled with some family connections in Boston, prompted her to venture over the border to take a superintendent’s position in Maine.
Her ultimate goal was to live and work in Massachusetts. Looking out over Boston from a relative’s Prudential Center apartment, Clenchy remembers thinking, “I really want to live here.”
In 2008, she made it to Massachusetts via a superintendent’s position in Winchendon and, later, in Ashland.
Once again, a shoulder tap, this time from the Mass. commissioner of education, took her to a new level. As senior associate commissioner for the Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education, she represented the state in education forums across the country. Ultimately, however, she found that level of government was not for her.
“I missed the children too much,” Clenchy said. “The environment was so different from school. I didn’t hear the voices and the laughter and the footsteps of the children.”
So, in 2016, she took the superintendent’s job at the Nashoba Regional School District, serving the towns of Bolton, Lancaster, and Stow, where she has worked for the last five years. Her husband, Kelly, is superintendent of the Littleton Public Schools.
During the pandemic, the Clenchys have been missing in-person visits with family. Their son, Scott; their daughter-in-law, Julie; and their six-year-old granddaughter, Peyton, live in Toronto. Covid has prevented any trips over the border.
The position at Nashoba would not allow her to take a month off to safely make the trip once travel was allowed, so she gave her six-month notice during the winter. “I thought, ‘That’s the only way I’m going to be able to do it,’ ” she said.
Things have worked out well for Clenchy. Not long after her decision to resign, the one-year interim superintendent position at Nauset was advertised.
Her last day at Nashoba is May 28 and her first day at Nauset is July 1, giving her ample time for a trip to Toronto between jobs.
“I have a lovely apartment in Hyannis, and I’m packed and ready,” Clenchy said. The couple will keep their home in Lunenburg, and Kelly will continue as Littleton’s superintendent. “It doesn’t make sense to sell the house and shift everything down here for a one-year position,” she said.
When Nauset begins its search for a long-term superintendent this fall, Clenchy plans to put her name in. “I have every interest in a full-time position,” she said. “I believe I’m the right fit for them. We’ll see if they agree.”
Meanwhile, she and her husband will spend weekends together. She anticipates many of those will be on the Cape. The couple enjoy the area and have ventured here frequently over the years.
Chris Easley, chair of the Nauset Regional School Committee, said the current position is for a single year, with a salary of $190,000. Nothing beyond that was discussed during the interview process.
He and other school committee members liked Clenchy’s “broad range of experience, her energy, and her attitude.” The school system is unusual in that it includes four towns and five different school committees, Easley said. Clenchy has spent her last five years in a regional system.
Clenchy knows the upcoming year will be challenging, as students resume full in-school learning. Nauset’s youngest students, who were just learning to read this current year, benefited from in-person classes, she said.
“All the districts are looking at different summer programs, and I think you’ll have a lot of educational arms reach in and help support the children,” she said. “Next year, you’ll see a lot of universal screening, particularly in the elementary level, to help guide teachers toward what they need to focus on.”
The district is also finishing the design phase for the high school renovation project and will likely put it out to bid in the spring. “The superintendent has input, but the 17-member building committee makes the decisions,” Easley said.
Clenchy is ready to embrace the challenge, saying her past positions will help her succeed.
“Every time I made a move, it was definitive of where I wanted to work next,” Clenchy said. “With that has come such a rich tapestry of experience for me to draw from.”
Passion for the work has motivated her from the beginning. “It’s still what motivates me every single day,” she said. “It’s a commitment and a vocation. I love what I do.”