Brian Beck named Hopkins principal; formerly worked in Athol, Buckland
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HADLEY — Brian Beck of Turners Falls has been chosen to lead Hopkins Academy. Beck, principal of Athol High School, will begin work July 1 , according to Interim Superintendent Donna Moyer. He will be paid $96,500 to lead the Hadley school, which enrolls 278 students in grades seven through 12.
In a letter posted on the school’s website, Moyer said that in Athol, Beck “has successfully implemented several initiatives that have increased student learning, built positive culture and formed bonds with families.”
He was one of two finalists interviewed at the Hadley School Committee meeting Monday. The other finalist was Daniel Roy, principal of Wilbraham Middle School. Moyer said both candidates were strong and received good feedback from parents, but hired Beck because of what she called the “breadth and depth of his knowledge base.”
Heather Klesch, a candidate for a School Committee seat who helped screen candidates, said that both of the finalists were “very good” and she’s pleased with the superintendent’s selection. She said Beck seems genuine, approachable and to care deeply about the school.
Beck has served as principal of Athol High School since 2010. From 2006 to 2010, he was principal of the Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland, which has about 580 students in grades seven through 12. He was assistant principal of the same school from 2004 to 2006. Beck is a graduate of Worcester State College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and sociology and a master’s degree in education. He began his career in teaching at Uxbridge High School, where he taught social studies for six years. In his letter of interest, Beck highlighted his experience improving the graduation and dropout rates at Athol High School despite the challenge of a student population with many low-income students, and his ability to increase the number of students passing Advanced Placement exams.
Last year, Athol High School served 390 students, 52 percent of whom were low-income, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. At Hopkins, 19 percent of the student body is classified as low-income.
Moyer cited Beck’s work as a curriculum coordinator at Mohawk Regional, which she wrote has given him experience in “curriculum development, data analysis and programmatic creation.”
Hopkins Academy is being led this year by Interim Principal Michael Rooney. Diana Bonneville was principal of the school from 2007 through December. She left to become principal of South Hadley High School, where she works under Superintendent Nicholas Young, who was superintendent in Hadley for 11 years until he left for South Hadley in June.
Beck was chosen from among 52 applicants. Close to 40 people made up four screening committees. Members of the committees met with candidates at Hopkins, reviewed application materials and went on site visits to the candidates’ schools.
“To have that many people willing to devote their time, that in itself was a statement about how much our community cares about our schools,” said Klesch.