Roderick MacNealRoderick MacNeal is moving on.

Dingman, Ford Walker, Smith named as finalists for second-highest post

UPDATED Jan. 17:Three finalists for deputy superintendent of teaching and learning have been selected by a representative screening committee, Arlington Public Schools announced Friday, Jan. 13. That committee was made up of APS parents, teachers, administrators and an AHS student.

They are Monakatellia "Mona" Ford Walker; Thad Dingman, longtime principal of Dallin School in Arlington; and Damon Smith.

The deputy superintendent is the second-highest-ranking official in the district and therefore the person who would step up in the stead of the superintendent if ever such a need were to arise. The candidate chosen for this position will succeed Roderick MacNeal Jr., who will leave the job June 30 to become head of a private school in Chestnut Hill.



After interviewing 11 "very competitive candidates for this important role for the Arlington Public Schools," the news release said, this representative screening committee plans to share these three finalists with the community for consideration in a rigorous round of finals Jan. 24 and 25. This process will include school visits, virtual forums with stakeholders, visits to the central office and a performance task. More information about this -- and how to participate -- is to be explained next week.

The candidate profiles, as described in the news release, are as follows:

Monakatellia "Mona" Ford Walkeris a graduate of the Boston Public Schools, where she also began her teaching career. Her passionMonakatellia Ford Walkerfor education is fueled by her familial history in public education and her own educational experiences as a student. Her desire to ensure all children reach their infinite potential, have access to rigorous learning opportunities, and attain academic success is cemented in her work throughout the public school system.

She is completing her doctoral residency in Revere Public Schools, where she is focusing her work on special education. Prior to this, she was principal of Winship Elementary School in Boston, which was designated a 2018 and 2019 Massachusetts School of Recognition school and a 2021 National Blue Ribbon school.

Ford Walker firmly believes in equity and student-centered learning, and she is committed to ensuring that all children acquire the knowledge and develop the skills and habits necessary to prepare them to succeed in college, career and life.

She holds a bachelor of science degree in in elementary education from Temple University, a master of science in elementary education from Cambridge College and a certificate of advanced graduate studies in educational leadership from Simmons College. She is scheduled to receive a doctorate in educational leadership from Harvard University in the spring.

Thad Dingmanhas been an educator for the past 20 years, beginning in Colorado and now in Massachusetts. After earning his undergraduateDingmandegree in industrial design from the Rochester Institute of Technology, he relocated to Boulder, Colo., earning his master's in elementary education from Regis University. During his time in Colorado, he served as an assistant preschool director and elementary public school teacher in the Boulder Valley School District. He moved into educational leadership after completing his degree in administrative leadership and policy work with the University of Colorado at Denver.

He was a prinicipal for four years at the Berkshire Hills Regional School District in western Massachusetts. He is in his ninth year in the Arlington Public School District as principal of Dallin Elementary School.

Dingman's interests have always been in the area of continuous improvement and inclusive school communities, as an educator and as a human. In addition to his role as a building leader, he has partnered with district administration to identify and repair equity issues spanning from special education disproportionality to culturally responsive teaching and learning.

He is the husband of an APS teacher and the father of three school-age children who attend APS schools. When he is not teaching, reading, cooking, coaching or dog walking, he enjoys being outside and eating good food.

Damon Smithis serving in his 12th year as the principal of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (CRLS), part of Cambridge PublicDamon SmithSchools. He has guided the school community through campus renovation, NEASC accreditation, transition to a 1:1 student device environment and the Covid pandemic. He worked with staff and stakeholders to develop the Level Up program, which enrolls and supports 9th grade students in honors level English and History courses. Under his supervision, CRLS has expanded interscholastic athletics, co-curricular programming, and social emotional and mental health supports for students.

Before his principalship, Smith served as dean of curriculum and program at CRLS. Before joining the Cambridge Public Schools in 2004, he was assistant school director at New Mission High School within Boston Public Schools.

Smith is a Wesleyan University graduate, and he earned a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He completed the Principal Residency Network Program at Northeastern University for his principal’s licensure and prepared for the superintendency in the inaugural cohort of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Influence 100 program.

Smith comes from a family of educators; both his mother and his father were public school educators in New York City. His wife is also an educator in the Cambridge Public Schools, and they reside in Cambridge with their two sons.


This is the highest-profile human-resources issue to occur within Arlington's public school district since autumn 2020, when a candidate had to be chosen to succeed longtime superintendent Kathleen Bodie, who had announced her planned retirement long before.

The field eventually was whittled down to two candidates: then-assistant-superintendent in Waltham, Elizabeth Homan, chosen in November 2020 to assume Arlington's top post effective July 2021; and Victoria Greer, former superintendent of schools in Sharon.

Greer, whose departure from Sharon had been a tumultuous one, laterbecame superintendent of schools in Cambridge. Greer became permanent superintendent in Cambridge effective January 2022 after having spent the prior six months as interim superintendent there beginning in July 2021. In December 2021, Greer got a $750,000 settlement based onclaims of having suffered discrimination in Sharonwhile superintendent there.

This news announcement was published Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, based on a Jan. 13 press release from Arlington Public Schools. The text was updated Jan. 17, with three paragraphs at the end to provide context on the selection process for top administrators.