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Search is on for new principal of Center/Pepin School in Easthampton

  • <br/><br/>CATHERINE BAUM<br/>Robert Orlando, new principal of the Center and Neil A. Pepin schools in Easthampt
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Orlando informed Easthampton administrators earlier this week that he has accepted a new job as head of school for Academy Hill School in Springfield, a private school serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Reached at his office Thursday, Orlando said the new position will “allow me to do something different and work with a different population of students.

“I feel indebted to all our Easthampton students and families for allowing me to be part of their lives for all these years,” said Orlando, 40, who lives in Southampton.

“In six years, we’ve gotten a lot done, and anyone who steps in will be able to move forward on what we started,” he said.

Orlando, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in education from Simmons College, began work in Easthampton 11 years ago as a special education teacher at Center/Pepin.

He was vice principal of Meadow Brook School in East Longmeadow before returning to Easthampton to become principal of Center/Pepin in July 2007. The school, which enrolls students in kindergarten through fourth grade, operates as a single program but occupies two buildings off of Park Street.

City school administrators praised Orlando’s leadership of the elementary school, which received the state’s highest ranking last year based on MCAS scores.

“It’s a huge loss,” said Superintendent Nancy Follansbee. “Rob has brought so many enrichment opportunities to the elementary schools and he made good connections with the community.”

She also cited Orlando’s role in creating a school garden and in reviving a proposal for a reorganization of the city’s three elementary schools aimed at creating a more coordinated curriculum and fewer transfers of students between Center/Pepin and Maple School.

Following a public forum earlier this year, a decision on the reorganization plan was delayed to next year to give more time for community discussion of the issue.

Follansbee said the school department would post the Center/Pepin principal’s job starting Thursday at an annual salary of $85,000 to $93,000. An interview committee will be formed to assist the search.

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