Jurgensen to retire as Hampshire Regional’s superintendent in June

  • Superintendent Craig Jurgensen plans to retire in June after nine years at Hampshire Regional School District. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

WESTHAMPTON — After nearly a decade as superintendent of the Hampshire Regional School District, Craig Jurgensen on Wednesday announced his retirement at the end of this school year in June.  

“It has been an extraordinary experience,” Jurgensen, 67, of Ashfield, wrote to staff members announcing his retirement. “Throughout my work with you, I have consistently witnessed and appreciated a commitment to excellence, dedication to quality teaching, and an accepting, supportive and safe environment for everyone.”

The district serves six towns, which can be eventful during budget season because Jurgensen has to attend multiple Town Meetings. The schools include Hampshire Regional High School, New Hingham Regional Elementary School, Westhampton Elementary School, William E. Norris School, Williamsburg Schools and R.H. Conwell Elementary School.

Jurgensen was selected for the superintendent position by five school committees in 2009. He worked for a number of years for the Northampton Public School District as director and associate director of pupil services, and coordinator of special education.

Much of his career path focused on special education, working to provide equal access to education for those with disabilities and improving instruction methods.

In 2013, Hampshire Regional High School partnered with the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech in Northampton to offer a program for deaf students to attend the high school, supported by a full-time teacher.

Jurgensen said he didn’t expect to pursue a career in education. At first, the Iowa native said he didn’t know what subject to pursue while in college in the 1960s, but he was motivated to stay in college.

He attended the University of South Florida, where his father also worked as an accounting professor. Jurgensen said he looked into following his father’s footsteps, but switched his major to psychology.

“I liked learning about people,” he said.

Once he took a class in special education, he was hooked and ultimately earned a bachelor’s degree in special education.

He served in the Navy for three years after college, an experience he said “helped me grow up.”

Special education was still very new during that time. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was enacted in 1975, mandating equal access to education for those with disabilities.

Jurgensen went on to earn a master’s degree in special education from the University of Oregon. While living in Oregon, he worked for about six years at an elementary school. He earned a doctorate in special education from the University of Massachusetts in the early 1990s.

“I knew I wanted to teach, work with kids and try to make a difference,” Jurgensen said.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.