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Whately Elementary selects Kristina Kirton as new principal

  • Whately Elementary School FOR THE GAZETTE/Paul Franz



For the Gazette
Friday, July 13, 2018

WHATELY — After an extensive search including a review of more than 30 applicants, Whately Elementary School has a new principal.

Kristina Kirton, a former first-grade teacher of 20 years, comes from the Holyoke Public Schools, where she most recently served as an administrator developing curriculum.

Members of the search committee described Kirton as putting students first and valued by her peers.

“She has a really nice way about her, having been a first-grade teacher for a long time,” Whately School Committee Chairwoman Katie Edwards said.

The search committee made its decision at the end of June and formally announced the decision this week.

The search committee — consisting of School Committee members, parents, teachers, faculty and a Select Board member — interviewed 11 candidates before narrowing to three finalists. Newly appointed Superintendent Darius Modestow made the final choice.

Modestow likes that Kirton has teaching experience and that when she switched over after two decades of classroom work to the role she’s held the past three years, she held the “respect of the building.”

“Her many years of classroom teaching experience and expertise in early literacy, combined with three years as an administrator in a large urban school, make her well prepared to lead Whately Elementary School,” Director of Elementary Curriculum Louise Law said in an email.

Law lauded Kirton as an “accomplished educator” and one who received “overwhelmingly positive” reviews from families and community members during a “meet and greet.”

“The members of the principal interview committee were impressed with Ms. Kirton’s depth of knowledge of elementary curriculum, and understanding of specific ways that a principal can support students, teachers and families,” Law said. “She demonstrated personal warmth, humor and thoughtfulness throughout the interview process.”

Edwards hopes Kirton will be able to lead the school through regional conversations about declining enrollment and in doing so, she will have a chance to lead a “gem of a school in the Pioneer Valley.”

Kirton was expected to start this week.