South Hadley names David Gallagher principal of middle school  

  • Melissa Premo, formerly of South Hadley and now of Ludlow, and her son Cruz, 3, play on the Michael E. Smith Middle School playground in South Hadley, July 26, 2018. The playground has been dedicated to former Smith Middle School Principal Paul Plummer. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2019 11:51:13 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Longtime Mosier Elementary School assistant principal David Gallagher has been named principal of Michael E. Smith Middle School. 

Gallagher has been with South Hadley public schools since 1996, where he began his career in the district as a school counselor at Mosier Elementary School.

He assumed an assistant principal role at the elementary school around the year 2000, which started as a part-time position before becoming a full-time role. For part of the last school year, he also served as an interim assistant principal at Michael E. Smith Middle School, which he said helped to facilitate the shift to a permanent position at the middle school this year. 

“When I was at Mosier, I never envisioned myself working with the students as they got older,” Gallagher said in an interview. “But when I got the opportunity to come over last year for that half-year, it was such a wonderful experience getting to see the students go through different stages of their adolescence, which I hadn’t experienced before.

“And adding that to the opportunity to work with another tremendous group of professionals, the staff here at Michael E. Smith,” he continued. “It was six months that, when I left, I truly cherished.”

Gallagher takes the place of former Michael E. Smith principal Douglas Daponde. Daponde left to take an administrative position in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, according to Superintendent Nick Young. 

Gallagher initially had different plans for the upcoming school year. His assistant principal position at Mosier was eliminated due to a $950,000 funding gap, which forced the school district to cut some teacher, administrative, and other staff positions, in addition to other reductions to programs and the school’s summer hours.

The “vast majority” of employees whose positions were cut were offered a different role in the district, Young told the Gazette in June. For Gallagher, this meant shifting to the middle school to work as a school adjustment counselor.

Instead, Gallagher was asked to take over as principal of the middle school — a shift that he described as “somewhat unexpected,” but “an exciting chance for me to expand my repertoire, and become once again, a colleague at the middle school.” He officially started the job on Friday. 

Gallagher plans to first “observe how the school runs itself” in order to set more specific goals for himself and the school in the future, he said. 

“I’m moving at warp speed for the past couple days, but I think I will be ready when Thursday morning comes around,” Gallagher said, referring to the first day of school for students.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at


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