Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Easthampton hires new principals for White Brook Middle School, Center/Pepin Elementary

Meredith Balise, a veteran health teacher at White Brook and president of the city teacher’s union, began work earlier this week as interim head of the middle school. She replaces Allison Rebello, who is moving into a new position July 31 as assistant principal of Center/Pepin School for health reasons. Rebello is a breast cancer survivor.

Amy Napolitano, assistant principal at Swift River Elementary School in Belchertown for the past five years, has been named the new principal of Center/Pepin. She replaces Robert Orlando, who left the district earlier this summer for a job with a private school in Springfield. As of Friday, Napolitano was still negotiating a salary and start date in Easthampton.

Balise, who lives in Wilbraham, said she is excited by the chance to lead White Brook, where she has taught health and life skills since 2002.

“I’ve been working on my administrative license for the past two years being trained by the current principal,” said Balise, who declined to give her age. “We have a strong middle school and I’m lucky to be able to continue with the initiatives she has put in place.”

White Brook colleagues praised Balise for the ties she’s built with students, teachers and parents at the school.

“Meredith is a phenomenally dedicated member of the White Brook community,” said science teacher Jan de Ubl. “She has the respect of every student, faculty member and school family. She is an excellent, excellent choice” for principal.

Balise, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Springfield College and a master’s degree in education from Westfield State University, will earn an annual salary of $82,000 as interim principal, according to the Easthampton school department.

Jared Orne, a history teacher at Easthampton High School, will replace her as head of the Easthampton Education Association.

Napolitano, 35, worked as an elementary school teacher in that city’s public schools and as a teacher at White Oak School in Westfield before becoming assistant principal at Swift River in Belchertown. A resident of Springfield, she holds an undergraduate degree in education from Boston University and a master’s in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Easthampton Superintendent Nancy Follansbee said Napolitano brings “a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to the position and an understanding of what students need.”

Reached at Swift River Friday, Napolitano cited communication as key to being a successful principal.

“It means being a good listener and letting everyone know they are welcome,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting the people in Easthampton and getting to know the parents and the students.”

Legacy Comments2

Why was it necessary to report in the paper that Meridith Balise, "declined to give her age"? What difference does it make if she is qualified to do the job? What purpose does it serve? Isn't it time that this inquiry is eliminated from interviews? My son just completed WBMS and he thought that Ms. Balise was an absolutely incredible teacher and he was excited to tell us that she was named principal. He didn't care if she was 25 or 65. To me, asking for someone's age, and placing it in the paper, or the fact that they declined to provide their age, allows some individuals who read it to form judgmental opinions based on age that might overshadow ability. We are confident that she will shine, no matter how old she is!

Welcome!!!! Look forward working with you in our community! Its a wonderful town, with great kids and parents.

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