By Jennifer Solis
---- — GROVELAND – Students of the Bagnall Elementary School will find an unexpected face greeting them when they return to school at the end of this month.
Superintendent Jeffrey Mulqueen of the Pentucket Regional School District is temporarily filling in for Elaine Champion, principal of the Groveland school, at the start of the school year so she can take time to address a health concern.
The news that Mulqueen will be heading the Bagnall through early fall was announced by central office staff late last week. It comes only weeks after Mulqueen announced that Principal Jack O’Mara of the Page Elementary School in West Newbury had decided to retire at the end of this calendar year.
O’Mara’s mid-year departure will require middle school Principal Debra Lay to fill in at the Page after the new year and high school Principal Jonathan Seymour will expand his responsibilities in order to cover both schools at the secondary level.
Unfortunately, the juggling in administrative positions is occurring just as the district is attempting to launch the state’s new teacher evaluation system, a task that requires consistent administrative support for all teachers.
But Mulqueen says his administrative team has been thinking “well beyond textbooks and teaching staff” over the summer and he is optimistic about their ability to manage the leadership challenges it faces this fall.
“Preparing for the new school year is always challenging for schools and the school district.
Setting tangible goals and distributing resources to accomplish intended outcomes are among the most important tasks,” Mulqueen said.
The superintendent, who has many years of experience working as a principal, said he is looking forward to working with students, staff and parents at Bagnall.
“The first 30 days of school are an exciting time for everyone. I anticipate support of faculty and parents to help establish routines, build a cooperative learning environment and engage in communication and partnership,” Mulqueen said.
For her part, Lay’s “prior experience and expertise at the elementary level will go a long way in smoothing the shift to new leadership,” Mulqueen said.
“Students and parents will notice a stronger presence of Dr. Lay at Page as the year progresses.
She will have time to learn about Page and get to know students, parents and the staff. This shift in support to Page School will allow Dr. O’Mara to focus on the Page building project which continues through the fall,” the superintendent added.
Mulqueen said the close physical proximity of the middle and high schools on the regional campus will aid Seymour in his efforts to oversee the two buildings.
Additionally, the educator evaluation system relies on extensive teacher collaboration and Mulqueen feels increasing the interaction between staff members at the high school and middle school will be “a tremendous boon.”
And middle school students will get the added benefit of being able to try out for athletic teams at the high school.
“There are many silver linings to this change,” Mulqueen said. “We are very fortunate in Pentucket to have very talented administrators who are willing and able to move well beyond traditional boundaries and roles.”
The first day of school for most Pentucket students is Aug. 28, except for incoming ninth-graders, who start on Aug. 27 and for pre-K and kindergarten students who begin on Aug. 29.
There is no school on Aug. 30 or Sept. 2.