Four new adminstrators sign on in Union 28
A group of children and a few adults dance the macarena during the seventh annual Hispanic Heritage Festival at Ryan Road School last year. Maureen Ryan, back row left, a former gym teacher at the school who led the children in dancing during past festivals was invited back for the event. She is now a principal at Newton School in Greenfield. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »
The Union 28 school district’s administrative staff has been shuffled around a bit for the school year that begins Aug. 28, with three new principals and an interim superintendent joining the ranks.
Robert Mahler, Shutesbury Elementary School’s retiring principal, was selected in June by the Union 28 Joint Supervisory Committee to replace former Superintendent Joan Wickman, who will take a new job as the superintendent-principal of a pre-kindergarten to Grade 8 school in Carlisle.
Mahler started the position on Aug. 1, and is expected to serve as the district’s interim superintendent for at least one year.
Union 28 school district serves the towns of Erving, New Salem, Leverett, Shutesbury and Wendell and consists of the Erving, Swift River, Leverett and Shutesbury elementary schools.
“It’s a different view of education, but I enjoy it,” said Mahler. “After many years of being in the classroom and schools, it’s kind of nice to be sitting on a seat, looking down over all the education terrain and trying to have an impact that way.”
Mahler said the biggest change from his previous job is the lack of “kids running around,” which he said he “absolutely” misses.
The incoming principals include Maureen Ryan, who replaces Mahler at Shutesbury Elementary School, James D. Trill, who now heads Erving Elementary School and Kelley Sullivan, who fills the position at Swift River Elementary School in New Salem.
“Right now, we’re trying to get them all oriented to the schools in the union,” said Mahler. “Creating trust between the staff and the town is really, really important.”
Ryan, who started July 1, said she has already met with Shutesbury’s fire and police chiefs, School Committee chairman and a number of other town officials and residents, as well as a group of administrators from the district.
“We are busy, busy, busy and enthusiastically looking forward to the first day of school, when our hallways, classrooms and playground will be filled with the excitement and energy that comes with 150-plus children,” said Ryan in an e-mail interview.
At Leverett Elementary School there will be new teachers for the pre-school and kindergarten classrooms. Amanda King will teach kindergarten, while Ruth Love Barer of Hadley will step into the pre-school position.
Union 28 will also implement the state’s new Educator’s Evaluation program this year, which is being put into place state-wide this fall. The program evaluates teachers and measures student learning by looking at data from the MCAS tests, direct observation and other sources.
“We were training for it last year. It’s a very large effort,” said Mahler. “It calls for unannounced visits, goal setting and education plans made for each teacher.” He added teachers will have demonstrate to administrators that their proficiency meets state standards. “It’s a very involved program,” he said.
Recently, Leverett and Shutesbury have been considering the possibility of leaving Union 28 to form a pre-kindergarten through grade six region with Amherst and Pelham. According to Michael DeChiara, Shutesbury’s representative to Union 28, the Regional School District Planning Board voted in July to delay the process until the spring.
DeChiara said that if Leverett, Shutesbury or both decide to leave the district, it would reduce the five-member Union 28 district to three or four members which would affect the job responsibilities and finances related to hiring a new permanent superintendent, he said.