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Hopkins principal departs School board  to name interim

Diana L. Bonneville, the principal at Hopkins Academy in Hadley since 2007, Thursday was named the new principal at South Hadley High School.

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Diana L. Bonneville, the principal at Hopkins Academy in Hadley since 2007, Thursday was named the new principal at South Hadley High School. Purchase photo reprints »

A full-time replacement will likely be chosen sometime in the early spring, they said.

Interim Superintendent Donna Moyer said Monday action will be taken as quickly as possible, but cautioned that Hadley might not be able to meet the Dec. 1 start date South Hadley has set for Bonneville. Under her contract with Hadley, Bonneville is required to give 120 days notice.

“I think we can, but I wouldn’t promise Dec. 1,” Moyer said. She added she wouldn’t hold Bonneville to her contract for the sake of holding to her contract, but “We have to be able to find a quality person.”

Moyer said the school district has already begun advertising for the position and has already received a number of inquiries.

The search for a full-time principal at Hopkins will begin after Thanksgiving, she said. The Hadley superintendent referred to the principal’s job as the “most important” in the district due to position’s contact with staff, students and community members.

Moyer said two screenings committees will be set up, one made up of staff members and another of community members.

The finalists for the position would also attend a community forum, she said. Moyer, who will ultimately make the selection, said she will be looking for someone with “squeaky clean recommendations.” It will also be important that the finalist be the consensus pick of the screening committees, she said, noting that she hopes to make the appointment in March.

Bonneville is the second administrator to follow former Hadley School Superintendent Nicholas D. Young to South Hadley in recent months. Patrick Lemieux, former Hopkins Academy athletic director, was named an assistant principal at SHHS earlier this fall.

Young led the Hadley Schools for 11 years before moving down the road to South Hadley in June.

School Committee Chair Robie Grant said she is confident that the schools will continue to improve despite the transitions.

“I think things are going really well in Hadley,” Grant said. “Donna Moyer has come in and rectified some of the problems from the previous administration.”

Grant said Bonneville’s appointment in South Hadley was not a surprise.

“Dr. Young made his intentions clear early on and she has kept us apprised of the situation,” Grant said.

Bonneville, of Becket, has been the Hopkins principal since 2007. She was one of two finalists for the position, along with Edward “Ted” McCarthy, an assistant principal at SHHS since 2010.

The former SHHS principal, Sean McNiff of Shutesbury, resigned unexpectedly in August. Longtime educator Christine Sweklo has served as acting principal since then.

During a South Hadley School Committee meeting last week, Young said the principal post will pay between $100,000 and $110,000 a year. He noted that Bonneville’s 12 years as an administrator means “she’s going to be on the high end of the scale,” he said.

Bonneville currently makes about $97,500 as head of Hopkins Academy. Bonneville has a master’s degree in education from Westfield State University and is completing a doctorate in education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Young said Bonneville’s success in raising academic achievement at the 315-student school was a major reason for his decision to choose her to lead South Hadley High, which has 670 students.

“Mrs. Bonneville and I worked very well together to build academic achievement,” said Young. “I want to replicate that success in South Hadley,” he added.

Before becoming principal of Hopkins Academy, Bonneville was an assistant principal in Northampton public schools from 2000 to 2007 and a social studies teacher at the Southern Berkshire Regional School District in Sheffield from 1995 to 2000.

Gazette Contributing Writer Etta Walsh contributed to this story.

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