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Amherst principal Michael Hayes resigns during leave

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  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO<br/>Michael Hayes, principal of Amherst Regional Middle School who is on leave, has resigned effective Dec. 31.
  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO<br/>Michael Hayes, principal of Amherst Regional Middle School who is on leave, has resigned effective Dec. 31.

AMHERST — Michael Hayes, the Regional Middle School principal who went on a leave of absence in July to spend more time with his family, has resigned as of Dec. 31.

He cited personal reasons for his decision, according to Superintendent Maria Geryk. “There are a variety of factors that have led to this decision, but the most important factor has been finding balance in life,” Geryk quoted Hayes as saying.

Interim Principal Betsy Dinger will now fill the position permanently, Geryk said.

Hayes was 37 and had been principal for just under two years when he announced in March that he would take a yearlong leave starting in July. He said he had been working 60 to 70 hours a week and wanted to spend more time with his two young daughters.

His wife, Sarah Hayes, returned in September to her job in the district as a math teacher. She now teaches at Amherst Regional High School.

In an interview last March, Hayes said he is driven to be successful. “The challenge in school administration is the infinite nature of the job,” he said. “I could work 24 hours a day and I would never run out of things to do.”

Geryk said in March that it was unusual to receive a request for a leave of absence from a principal, but found it easy to grant Hayes’ request. “I think it’s wonderful for him to be home with his family,” she said. “I find it admirable.”

Hayes was not available for comment Tuesday night.

“I respect Mike’s decision to do something different and wish him the best,” Geryk said in an interview Tuesday night. “He’s done an exceptional job in the district. He moved the middle school forward years ahead of where it was.”

Hayes joined the middle school staff in 1997 as an instructional assistant in math. He served as a math teacher, the K-12 math coordinator, the interim K-12 curriculum coordinator, and senior assistant principal.

Geryk said she is “thrilled” that Dinger has accepted the permanent appointment. “She’s exceptional and has the full support of the faculty,” Geryk said.

Katherine Appy, who chairs the Amherst School Committee, said she was not aware of any other job that Hayes is taking.

“I think Mike did wonderful things for the middle school and had a significant impact on making it the wonderful place it is now,” she said. “I wish him the best. He’ll go places in his professional life. I’m thrilled to hear that Betsy Dinger will take the position of permanent principal because I think it will make the transition easy and she’s proven herself to be a wonderful leader.”

Hayes is on a 90 percent leave and has been involved in some aspects of running the school, Geryk said. He will continue to receive 10 percent of his $103,193 annual salary through the end of the month.

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