Bill McKersie

Hastings Schools Superintendent William McKersie

The Hastings School Board unanimously appointed the district’s interim superintendent, William “Bill” McKersie, to the position of permanent superintendent on Nov. 22. 

McKersie, 62, stepped in for the 2021-22 academic year when Valerie Henning-Piedmonte retired on June 30 after fulfilling two years of her three-year contract. McKersie’s contract begins Jan. 1, 2022 and ends June 30, 2026.

McKersie told the Enterprise that now that he has a multi-year outlook, he wants to make sure he’s “very energetic, focused, and positive.”

“You need to keep assuring the board and the community you’re doing a good job,” he said. “I have to keep proving I’m doing the job Hastings students, the board, and the community need.”

School board president Doug Sundheim made it clear that McKersie has provided plenty of assurance. “He is all about relationships,” Sundheim said. “I would go a step beyond that and say he’s really about partnering with every stakeholder: with his principals and administrative team, with the people in the town, with the mayor, the police chief. Even as an interim, his relationships were key.”

McKersie shares that vision of his mission as superintendent. “Most immediately, I want to continue to build on what I started: to have excellent relationships — that’s at the core of what we do, working with the board, the faculty, and families in the community, and those that need a little more attention.”

When the district looked for an interim superintendent, Sundheim said, the board had a good idea of what it needed and what the community wanted. McKersie is the district’s fourth superintendent since Roy Montesano left for Bronxville in 2017, after five years in Hastings. Montesano was followed by Tony Sinanis from 2017-18, interim Charles Wilson from 2018-19, and Henning-Piedmonte for 2019-21.

“We had a more robust pool of superintendents than we had in the past,” Sundheim explained, “and Bill rose to the top of that group… We had a unique opportunity to get to know him.”

Before he came to Hastings, McKersie had been superintendent of schools in Weston, Conn., since 2016, and Greenwich, Conn., from 2012-16. He and his family live in Greenwich. From 2008-12, he was associate superintendent for academic excellence for the Archdiocese of Boston. His résumé also includes a bachelor’s degree in social psychology from Tufts University, a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

The board favored his candidacy for other reasons, too. Sundheim enumerated, “He’s seasoned, had experience in a similar size district, and is very familiar with the opportunities and challenges of working in a district of the same size. He understood some of the things we are dealing with. It was kind of a win-win.”

Over the course of his career, beginning in 1981 as an administrator and coach at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, McKersie spent four years coaching high school girls’ basketball and boys’ soccer, and 25 years coaching club soccer. 

He emphasized that quality instruction in the arts is a priority, and noted that every institution where he’s worked had strong arts programs. Hastings is no exception. 

“One of the attractions to be superintendent here … is that Hastings really gives students great opportunities for performing arts and visual arts experiences,” said McKersie. “It encourages all students to give it a go, and I think that’s very important.” That he considers the arts a priority is substantiated by his attendance at school performances and art exhibits.

Sundheim remarked on what the board considers one of McKersie’s outstanding characteristics: “Crystal-clear communication, especially in the time of Covid, especially in a time of really big changes going on in our society. I think parents had a lot of questions. Crystal-clear communication is critical, and he has been stellar at that.”

McKersie’s regular Friday Superintendent Community Updates on the district website bear out Sundheim’s evaluation. McKersie calls this way engaging with stakeholders his “attempt to express our core guiding principles to help us be as strong as possible here in Hastings.”

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