Frontier Regional, Union 38 school committees praise superintendent’s performance


Staff Writer
Published: 7/19/2020 8:00:34 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Superintendent Darius Modestow of the Frontier Regional and Union 38 school districts received nearly all “exemplary” or “proficient” ratings by school committee members in their review of his performance over the last year and a half.

Of the four performance indicators Modestow was rated on — instructional leadership progress, management and operations, family and community engagement, and professional culture — the only indicator for which he received any ratings from individual members of less than proficient was in family and community engagement.

The performance review was presented and accepted by committee members at the Union 38 School Committee and Frontier School Committee meetings held Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Of the 17 responses in the family and community engagement category, Modestow received one “needs improvement” rating. Within the same category, six responses indicated he was “exemplary”; 10 indicated he was “proficient.”

“Would like to see more serious consideration for parents to contribute to ‘support student learning and development at home, school and in the community,” one committee member wrote in the comment section. “For example, some of the committees for student re-entry in the fall could have included parents, especially those concerned for children with special needs.”

Another comment indicated there was room for improvement in the area of family and community engagement “in terms of consistency and cultural proficiency.”

Other comments in the same category said Modestow has established “effective partnerships” with the community, families, school committees and staff.

“He is respectful of views other than his own and listens to the suggestions and concerns of others,” wrote one committee member.

As for the three other indicators of his performance, 59 percent rated him proficient in instructional leadership and 41 percent rated him exemplary. In management and operations, 47 percent rated him proficient and 47 percent rated him exemplary, with at least one non-response. In professional culture, 71 percent rated him proficient and 29 percent rated him exemplary.

A number of comments throughout the review indicated approval of how Modestow has handled the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools across Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately and Conway, noting that he facilitated a smooth transition from in-class learning to remote instruction.

Deerfield School Committee member Trevor McDaniel said at Wednesday’s Union 38 School Committee meeting that he has appreciated Modestow’s commitment to communication.

“I have not done this job as long as many others, but in the four or five years I’ve been on the School Committee, I’m just so blown away at the level of communication and care that he has for our students,” McDaniel said. “I can’t think of a better leader to take us through this horrendous pandemic. … We’re all learning together and I’m thrilled he’s guiding us.”

Modestow was appointed to the role in January 2019 after the Frontier Regional and Union 38 school committees opted to suspend their search for a new superintendent of schools and appoint the former principal of Frontier.

“I do want to correct anywhere I go astray,” Modestow said on Wednesday, thanking committee members for their review of his performance. “It’s not an easy job, it’s not a perfect job, and I know I misstep along the way. … When I don’t get feedback, I don’t know where I need to steer things, so continue to give me that advice.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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