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Smith Academy hires interim principal for permanent post at Hatfield school

— Smith Academy’s interim principal Andrew Berrios has been named the school’s permanent principal.

“Andrew has done a very impressive job here,” said Hatfield School Superintendent John Robert in a telephone interview on Thursday morning. “He has demonstrated strong leadership skills as well as a real commitment to the school and the community.”

Berrios was appointed as interim principal in August to replace Stefan Czaporowski after he left Smith Academy to take become principal at Westfield Vocational High School.

A former Marine, Berrios, 31, said he was pleased to accept the position, which comes with a three-year contract and a salary of $93,000 a year.

“It feels amazing. I am very happy here, this feels like a really good fit,” Berrios said. “Even though it seems like time just flew by, it has provided me with a clear vision of where I would like to take the school.”

Prior to coming to Smith Academy, Berrios had served as vice principal at Fairview Veterans Memorial Middle School in Chicopee.

Robert said Smith Academy had become familiar with Berrios after he was a finalist for principal position two years ago.

“Andrew was one of the three finalists here when we hired Stefan. So we had already gone through a pretty extensive interview process with him,” he said.

Robert said he made the decision to offer Berrios the position after talking with students, staff, parents and School Committee members.

“The overwhelming consensus from everyone was to offer Mr. Berrios the position of principal of Smith Academy,” Roberts said.

With the release of the MCAS results in September, Smith Academy was rated a Level 2 school. Berrios says that at the top of list is making sure that Smith Academy becomes a Level 1 school. Under the state ranking system, schools were designated from Level 1 to Level 5, based on assessments of their MCAS results and other academic measures.

Another item Berrios said he would like to address is broadening the school’s curriculum by working with an international school.

“I would like to do more collaborative learning with the international community,” he said. “Getting together with an international school would allow our kids to explore more global issues together with other students who may have different perspectives. It would expose our students to more than just Massachusetts or the U.S.”

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