Florence middle school teacher named Mohawk Trail’s new assistant principal

  • Diane Zamer of Florence began her first week as Mohawk Trail Regional School’s assistant principal July 1.  Contributed Photo/Carla Potts

  • Diane Zamer of Florence began her first week as Mohawk Trail Regional School’s assistant principal July 1.  Staff Photo/Grace Bird

Staff Writer
Published: 7/7/2019 9:59:21 PM

BUCKLAND — Come fall, Mohawk Trail Regional School students will see a new face in the classroom and around the halls.

Diane Zamer started as Mohawk Trail’s new assistant principal on July 1.

Zamer comes to Mohawk Trail from John F. Kennedy Middle School in Florence, having taught sixth grade there for several years. She lives in Florence with her husband, Barry, and two twin 14-year-olds, Lily and Anna.

Before working in Hampshire County, Zamer taught in a couple of Springfield elementary schools, where she ran in the same circles as Mohawk Trail Principal Marisa Mendonsa. While the two didn’t know one another personally, Zamer said she admired Mendonsa’s work as a school administrator in the city.

“She’s got such a vision,” Zamer said of Mendonsa. “She’s rolling out all these great new initiatives. She’s a go-getter. She knows what’s going to be better for kids.”

This will be Zamer’s first administrative role, though she has experience mentoring new teachers in Springfield. Zamer said she is looking forward to providing support for teachers.

“It’s a dream job,” Zamer said. “The way Marisa sees this role is I’m going to be in the classroom as much as possible, and get to know the teachers and get to know the kids.”

Mohawk Trail will also mark Zamer’s first foray into high school education. She said she is looking forward to guiding students through an exciting — albeit difficult — period of their lives.

“Those middle school years — I remember them, I wouldn’t want to relive them,” Zamer joked. “I don’t remember being a first grader, but I remember being in middle school and high school. I know what I would’ve needed in a teacher or an administrator. It’s great to be that for kids.”

Growing up in the small Wisconsin city of Onalaska, Zamer always knew she wanted to become a teacher. At 19, she started to work in a first-grade classroom, though quickly realized she wanted to spread her wings and gain some maturity before returning to her original goal.

“I thought, ‘I’m not old enough, I don’t have enough experience, I can’t teach kids, it’s such a responsible job,’” Zamer said. “I got a little bit scared.”

In her final year at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Zamer decided she wanted to see what it was like to live in a big city, having lived in small-town Wisconsin for her life up until then. Just before her 23rd birthday, Zamer moved to New York City.

In New York, Zamer found a wealth of opportunities she didn’t know existed. She worked in photography for several years, followed by production and advertising.

When Zamer and her husband had their twin daughters in 2004, they realized it was time for a change of pace. Having become familiar with Western Massachusetts while visiting a sister, she and her husband moved to Northampton when the twins were 5 months old.

After taking care of her daughters for three years, Zamer realized it was time to return to her original goal: teaching.

“Having the girls, it clicked in my brain,” Zamer said. “I thought, ‘I’m an adult, I’m responsible enough, I have kids, I have a different perspective on children and learning, now that I’m a mother.’”

Zamer earned a master’s degree in education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, completing her practicum requirement in Springfield public schools. Zamer was hired as a teacher in a Springfield elementary school, and remained in that city for several years before moving to Hampshire County.

Throughout her teaching career, Zamer’s work has often gone beyond the classroom. She participated in “School Quality Review” teams, received a grant for an integrated biography unit and helped lead professional development courses, a news release states. Also, Zamer won the Grinspoon Excellence in Teaching Award — twice.

Zamer taught her final sixth-grade class a couple of weeks ago, and while she is excited to move forward in her career, she admitted it was difficult to leave students she’d come to know well after spending “180 days together.”

“As I was closing up the year, I said, ‘Wait,’” Zamer said. “Being out of the classroom will be different, but I’m so excited to be in other classrooms. I won’t have my own classroom, but I’ll be able to watch teachers working magic.”

Reach Grace Bird at gbird@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 280.

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