Barshefsky named principal of Sunderland Elementary School

SUNDERLAND — After leading the Sunderland Elementary School for the past six months, Benjamin Barshefsky is officially the new principal.

Barshefsky has been serving as the interim principal since the former principal, Timothy Merritt, died unexpectedly last September.

Superintendent Martha Barrett announced Barshefsky’s appointment at the School Committee meeting this week.

“Over the past few months, I was truly able to figure out that Sunderland Elementary School was where I want to be,” Barshefsky said. “It’s such a phenomenal community. The students are great. The faculty and staff are true professionals. It’s been a pleasure working with them.”

Since 2006, Barshefsky has taught physical education at the Deerfield Elementary School.

While this is the 31-year-old’s first administrative job, at Deerfield, Barshefsky served as mentor for new teachers and as head teacher when the principals were out of the building. He also has his certificate in administration. Barshefsky holds a bachelor’s in movement and sports studies from Springfield College as well as a master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts.

“I was humbled that they asked me to step on and support the staff and students,” Barshefsky. “I’ve approached the job every day the best I could and tried as hard as I could to support the staff.”

At Deerfield, Barshefky worked with former school principal Doug Tierney, who helped inspire him as an educator.

“(Tierney) said ‘whenever you’re working with kids, you need to think of it as if it was your own child and what would you want to see happen.’ I’ve taken that advice to heart,” Barshefsky said. “Doug was a phenomenal mentor to me as well as all the other administrators I worked for, but he set the tone for me.”

Barshefky first started working with children as a camp counselor at the Hampshire Regional YMCA.

“I’ve always loved being able to work with kids,” Barshefsky said.

He is currently the director of Top Notch Basketball Camp, which is held at the Frontier Regional School during the summer months and is the varsity boys’ basketball coach at Frontier. His athletic background, Barshefsky believes, has helped him from a leadership standpoint.

As the successor to the well-liked Merritt, Barshefsky said he’d like to continue the programs Merritt had started.

“He really did put this school first,” Barshefsky said. “He had it going in the right direction and he brought a lot of new initiatives to the school. Ultimately, I want to continue the work he had started and continue to expose kids to new ideas, integrate technology and help kids develop a sense and love for lifelong learning.”

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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