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Sarah Madden named principal of R.K. Finn Ryan Road School in Northampton

Superintendent Brian Salzer announced Thursday that Madden was chosen from among three finalists for the post, replacing Margaret Riddle, who is retiring after more than 30 years with the Northampton schools, seven as principal of Ryan Road.

In a phone interview Thursday, Madden said she was “ready for this and excited.”

Ryan Road “seems like a school community that embraces the values I hold,” she said. “It has a caring staff, supportive families. It’s a wonderful learning community.”

Madden, who plans to relocate to the Pioneer Valley with her husband, Bill Madden, said her first goal after starting the job in Northampton is “to build relationships with everyone in the community.”

The couple have two grown sons, Luke, 22, and Patrick, 20.

Madden will earn an annual salary of $87,000.

Greg Kerstetter, a fifth grade teacher at Ryan Road and a member of the search committee, said Madden’s experience and approach to education made her a good fit for the school.

“We wanted someone who was an educator as well as a leader,” he said. “She just seems to really love the puzzle of children and the puzzle of how to teach them.”

Salzer, who headed the nine-member search committee, said a site visit to Madden’s school Thursday “confirmed for us her ability to build relationships. They said she makes every kid feel special.”

A resident of Williamstown, Madden was a classroom teacher for 21 years before becoming principal of Hancock Central School in 2008. In 2010, she was hired to lead Brayton Elementary in North Adams. Madden’s experience also includes stints as a teachers union leader, coordinator of an after-school tutoring program and co-creator of a Boys and Bikes program for sixth grade boys with behavioral problems.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and education from Mount Holyoke College — where she also played soccer — and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University in Boston.

Madden was selected from a pool of 33 applicants for the Ryan Road principalship, including some from within the city school department, according to Salzer.

Madden was also a principal finalist recently at Crocker Farm Elementary School in Amherst. That job went to Michelle Tesauro in March.

The two other finalists for Ryan Road principal were David M. Potter, principal of Patrick Bowe Elementary in Chicopee and a former teacher at Shutesbury Elementary; and Maureen T. Ryan, associate principal of Newton School in Greenfield and a former teacher at Ryan Road.

In addition to Salzer and Kerstetter, search committee members are Bridge Street School Principal Beth Choquette; School Committee member Blue DuVal; and from the Ryan Road School, teachers Beth Brady and Ann Desmond, administrative assistant Sharon Matrishon, School Council representative Robert McLaughlin, PTO leader Sarah Mochak and Karen Jarvis-Vance, director of health and safety for the city schools.

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