R.K. Finn Ryan Road School Principal Margaret Riddle of Northampton to retire
Margie Riddle. Purchase photo reprints »
R. K. Finn Ryan Road School principal Margie Riddle, flanked by first-graders Tyler Robinson, left, and Kelvin Perez, right, walks down Florence Road with a group of students on their way to school Thursday morning. Joining in the 1.6-mile walk were Northampton councilor Marianne Labarge, right, and Ryan Road first grade teacher Diana Ramsden, second from right. Riddle kept the group on a brisk pace only slowing down now and then to let other children join in along the way. Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — R.K. Finn Ryan Road School Principal Margaret Riddle will retire at the end of the school year after more than three decades of service to city schools — the past seven as head of the elementary school in Florence.
Riddle, 68, informed school families of her decision in a letter sent home with students Wednesday.
“Serving as principal of your children’s school has been both a joy and a privilege — truly the most rewarding position I have held in my many years as an educator,” she wrote. “It will be very difficult for me to say goodbye.”
A Connecticut native who began her professional life as a journalist, Riddle was first hired by the Northampton schools in 1979 as coordinator of Volunteers in Northampton Schools.
A graduate of Smith College, she served on the School Committee for eight years, and in 1995 became a teacher at Bridge Street School, where she taught third, fourth and fifth grades.
She was named principal of the R.K. Finn school on Ryan Road, which enrolls 239 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, in 2006.
Riddle said that role has been more fulfilling than she ever expected.
“I just love this school,” she said. “The staff is amazing, the kids are fabulous. I never would have thought this job could be so rewarding and enjoyable.”
She said the decision to retire is one she made with her family about a year ago. Riddle lives in Northampton with her husband, Bob, and has two grown children and two grandchildren.
Johanna McKenna, the district’s director of academic effectiveness, who was principal of Bridge Street School when Riddle was teaching there, described her colleague’s retirement as “a big, huge loss for Northampton.”
McKenna praised Riddle’s teaching and her skills as an administrator.
“Margie is a master in the classroom,” she said. “For the faculty, she provides a real sense of security and certainty and she doesn’t make mistakes.”
McKenna also said Riddle “never, ever sees a kid from the point of view of what they can’t do. And that’s a real strength.”
In her letter to school families, Riddle described her retirement as part of the life cycle of her school.
“Each year brings our children a new class, a new teacher, new experiences and opportunities to learn,” she wrote. “Next fall your children will also have a new principal. I have confidence that you will help your children understand what we know to be true: Every ending is also a new beginning.”
McKenna said a search committee will be formed to find a new principal. Riddle earns $87,765 as principal, according to city records.