Longtime educator Paula Fitzgerald named principal at Belchertown school
BELCHERTOWN — Paula Fitzgerald, a longtime educator in the Pioneer Valley tapped this week as the new Chestnut Hill Community School principal, said she is looking forward to working in Belchertown.
Fitzgerald, currently principal of the Quarry Hill Community School in Monson, will start the job July 1.
Fitzgerald has visited the school once and said she aims to meet parents and teachers over the summer.
“I want to get a feel for the school, see what’s going on and what they want more of,” she said. “If there are strengths we want to build on them, and if there are weaknesses, investigate them and become part of the solution.”
Fitzgerald was chosen from a pool of 29 candidates by a search committee of 12 people, including school officials, parents, and teachers.
She replaces Jose Irizarry who has been interim principal since February, when former principal Brian Cameron was named assistant superintendent for the town’s school department.
Fitzgerald says she is excited to begin work at the Chestnut Hill school, for students grades 4-6. She said the move to Belchertown to work at an elementary school is an exciting change of pace because she likes the age group.
“That’s where I started,” says Fitzgerald, “I have a fondness for those grades.”
Fitzgerald, 51, who grew up in Holyoke, began working in education as a sixth-grade teacher at the William Peck Middle School in Holyoke. She also worked as principal of the Morgan School and vice principal at the E.N. White School, both in Holyoke.
She has been principal at Quarry Hill Community School in Monson since September 2011.
Fitzgerald has a master’s degree from Elms College and has a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Quarry Hill Community School is grades pre K-4.
Cameron had been principal at the school for the past nine years. Irizarry, a retired principal from Springfield, will leave his interim post at the end of the school year.