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Finalists named for two Amherst school principal jobs

Finalists for the Fort River Elementary School job are Anna-Stina Wardlaw, the interim principal at the William E. Norris School in Southampton; Laura Stuart-Wonderlie, educational consultant at the Seven Hills Charter School in Worcester; and Bobbie Finocchio, the principal at Cummings Elementary School in Winthrop.

They are seeking to succeed Monica Hall who will move to the central office to fill the long-vacant position of director of diversity and equity for the school district.

The Amherst Regional Middle School candidates are Marisa Mendonsa, principal of the John J. Duggan Middle School in Springfield, who once taught social studies at Amherst Regional Middle School; and Selethia Benn, principal in residence at Up Academy Leonard Middle School in Lawrence.

The current middle school principal, Betsy Dinger, is returning to teaching.

The Fort River candidates will be at the school Monday and will meet the public at individual forums beginning at 6:15 p.m.

The middle school finalists will visit the school March 24 and be available to meet the public beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the middle school library.

The finalists were chosen by search committees that have been screening applications for several weeks.

There were eight applicants for the Fort River job and seven applicants for the middle school post, said Rachel Bowen, assistant director of human resources. Four semifinalists were interviewed for each job, Bowen said.

Before taking the interim principal position in Southampton last year, Wardlaw was principal at the Conte Community Day School in Pittsfield for one year and principal of Granville Village School in Granville for four years. She also worked as acting and assistant principal at Glennbrook Middle School in Longmeadow and was director of teaching and learning at the secondary level in the Gill-Montague School District in Gill, a counselor at West Springfield Middle School and an English as a second language teacher in South Hadley.

Prior to her work in Worcester, Stuart-Wonderlie served as principal in residence and academic dean at the Elm City Elementary School in New Haven, Conn. She was principal of The Phillip R. Smith Elementary School in South Windsor, Conn., from 2005 through 2012. Before becoming a school administrator, she held teaching positions at the University of Hartford Magnet School and in the Enfield public schools.

Finocchio has spent her career in the Winthrop public schools as an administrator, special education teacher, new teacher mentor and softball coach.

Before working in Lawrence, Benn was resident principal at Sedgefield Elementary School, a magnet school in Charlotte, N.C. She was also assistant principal and then principal in residence at the Jerry Zucker Middle School of Science in Charlestown, S.C. She worked as a counselor at the Whale Branch Middle School in Seabrook, S.C., taught in Fort Hood and Killeen, Texas, and has served as a girls basketball coach.

Mendonsa was assistant principal at the John J. Duggan Middle School in Springfield for one year before assuming the principal post in 2012. She also was the governing board chair at the Springfield Renaissance School, serving as liaison to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She also taught social studies and history in Amherst, Springfield and North Carolina.

Following the forums, Bowen said Superintendent Maria Geryk will decide on the new principals after weighing information from the search committee interviews and the written exercises candidates completed, as well as feedback from the school visits and public meetings.

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