Smith Academy principal leaving for bigger school

  • Andrew Berrios talks about his experience driving the Smith Academy bus Sept. 4, 2017 in the School Bus Demolition Derby at the Three County Fair in Northampton. ​​​​​​GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Andrew Berrios, the principal of Smith Academy in Hatfield, talks with Alice Wanamaker, a ninth-grade student at Easthampton High School, April 4, 2018. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/31/2018 4:00:00 PM

HATFIELD – Andrew Berrios is leaving his position as principal of Smith Academy for a job as a middle school principal in Connecticut. 

“There’s nothing negative to say about here and why I’m leaving,” Berrios said of the decision. “It’s strictly for growth.”

With over a thousand students, John F. Kennedy Middle School in Enfield, Connecticut is much larger than Smith Academy, whose enrollment is less than 200 students. Though Berrios said a small school had benefits – such as getting to know all the students – he said the new position fits with his long-term goals. 

“I’d like to work in a larger district and eventually one day look to a central office position,” he said. 

In fact, last spring Berrios was a finalist for superintendent of Easthampton Public Schools. He and Allison LeClair were the final two candidates, and in April, the school committee chose LeClair in a close vote for the position.

Leaving in the year, Berrios admits, is disruptive, “The timing is not ideal, but that’s out of my control,” he said.

“When I got the call,” he said of when he got his new job, “that’s obviously my thought, ‘ah middle of the school year.’ I really took some time to think about it.”

“It’s always difficult mid-year,” Superintendent John F. Robert said. “I think opportunities come up when they come up; sometimes you don’t have control over that. I wish him luck.”

Berrios, a former Marine, was previously vice principal at Fairview Veterans Memorial Middle School in Chicopee. He started at Smith Academy as interim principal in 2012 and later that year took the position permanently with an annual salary of $93,000. 

Until an interim principal is found, Berrios will continue in his position at Smith Academy. Robert said he published a job posting on October 18 and expects a new interim principal to start in December, according to a letter he posted on the district’s website.

“He has definitely made a positive impact at Smith Academy and will be missed,” Robert wrote in the letter.

Greta Jochem can be reached at

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