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Anna-Stina Wardlaw of Holyoke named interim principal of William E. Norris School in Southampton

Anna-Stina Wardlaw will start Monday, said Hampshire Regional School District Superintendent Craig Jurgensen. Former Principal William E. Collins left the job in June to work as coordinator of the graduate Educational Leadership Program at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.

“I know she’s a good fit for Norris,” Jurgensen said Friday, a day after finalizing Wardlaw’s contract. “She has good experience, she’s a strong educational leader, she cares about student achievement and I think she understands the role of an interim principal,” he said.

“The role of an interim principal is to maintain the traditions, the culture, the things that are important to the community, and also to understand the need to continue moving forward.”

Wardlaw is one of three leaders Jurgensen has named to interim positions this summer. He and School Committee members plan to have permanent principals in place at Norris School and Hampshire Regional High School by the end of the school year in June 2014.

In July, he chose Kristen Smidy, the assistant principal for Grades 7 and 8 at Hampshire Regional High School, to serve as interim principal of the whole school for a year while officials search for a permanent replacement for Laurie Hodgdon. Hodgdon left the job at the end of June to be principal of Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield.

Later that month he named Jesse Porter-Henry, a teacher at the high school who taught math and science, to fill Smidy’s role in the middle school while she steps up as interim principal.

Anna-Stina Wardlaw said a number of factors drew her to apply at the Norris School, and she plans to apply for the permanent position as well.

A few of her friends who are also educators have children who attend the school, she said. “They can’t say enough about how fantastic it is,” she said. “And educators are the toughest critics.”

She also likes the size of the school, which is large compared to many area elementary schools, she said. “It has over 500 students, but it’s still a tight-knit community that is engaged and committed to its children’s education,” she said.

Wardlaw also has ties to the area because she grew up in Amherst, has lived in Westhampton and worked as a teacher and counselor in several area schools.

She left her job as principal at the Silvio O. Conte Community School in Pittsfield to take the job in Southampton, looking partly to shorten her commute from her home in Holyoke. Before working in Pittsfield, she served as principal of Granville Village School in Granville and director of teaching and learning for Gill-Montague Regional Schools.

Wardlaw will be paid an annual salary of $87,000. At Hampshire Regional High School, Porter-Henry will make $65,000 as interim assistant principal of the middle school, and Jurgensen said he and Smidy have yet to negotiate her contract.

Jurgensen said Porter-Henry’s familiarity with the school means he can hit the ground running. “If we had someone new, they could spend a year just coming up to speed,” he said.

Porter-Henry taught chemistry in his first year at Hampshire Regional and math for the 2013-2014 school year. Jurgensen said that teachers have shuffled classes so that it is not necessary to find a one-year replacement for Porter-Henry.

“I feel positive about these changes,” Jurgensen said of the interim principals he’s hired. “There’s a lot of good work going on and I think they’ll move us forward.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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