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Two finalists named for Leeds School principal in Northampton

— Two finalists have been named in the search for a new principal at Leeds School — Sal J. Canata, associate principal at JFK Middle School, and Carolyn J. Boyce, assistant principal and special education supervisor at Blueberry Hill School in Longmeadow.

A 14-member search panel selected them from a pool of 35 applicants to replace Principal Joseph Smith, who is resigning June 30 after two years on the job.

The public will have an opportunity to meet the finalists from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. May 23 in the Leeds School library. Superintendent Brian Salzer expects to announce a hire by May 29, following additional interviews, site visits and reference checks.

Canata, 45, who had been assistant principal at JFK beginning in 2005 until his title was changed in September, said he is “psyched and thrilled to have this opportunity.”

“It’s a natural progression for me,” Canata said. “I’ve demonstrated my commitment to the city and the school system and I’ve been well prepared.”

In a phone interview Monday, Canata, a married father of two, said the job of school principal requires “commitment, communication and keeping an open door.”

“The question you have to keep asking is, Why are we doing this and is it good for kids?” he added.

A resident of Holyoke, Canata was assistant principal of Tri-County Schools in Easthampton between 2003 and 2005 and dean of students at Michael E. Smith Middle School in South Hadley for three years, according to his resume. He also taught special education in West Springfield for six years.

Canata holds a bachelor of science degree in middle school education from North Adams State College and a master’s degree in education from American International College in Springfield.

Boyce, who is single and lives in Indian Orchard, has been assistant principal at Blueberry Hill elementary since 2011, according to her resume. She was assistant principal of Montague Elementary School from October 2010 to June 2011.

In a phone interview Monday, Boyce, 34, said she has enjoyed being part of the Pioneer Valley since college and believes Northampton “would be a good fit for me.”

Leading a school requires “really good communications skills and consistency of expectation,” Boyce said. “You need someone who is strategic in leadership decisions and is tuned in to the needs of teachers and the community.”

Boyce’s experience also includes stints as a kindergarten teacher at Robinson Park School in Agawam and a music teacher for the Quabbin Regional School District, according to her resume.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in child study and early education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

This is one of three administrative searches under way in Northampton.

The School Committee is scheduled to meet at 4:45 p.m. today at JFK to discuss the search for a new superintendent. Salzer is leaving in July for a job overseas.

Finalists also have been named in the search for a Northampton High School principal to replace Nancy Athas, who is retiring in June. Earlier this month, Sarah Madden was named the new principal of R.K. Finn Ryan Road School and will begin in July. She will replace Margaret Riddle, who is retiring.

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