Ashfield teacher transitions to assistant principal role in Turners Falls

  • Kristen Schreiber is the new assistant principal at Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Kristen Schreiber, the new assistant principal at Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School, talks with students last week. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Kristen Schreiber is the new assistant principal at Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/26/2022 2:47:38 PM
Modified: 1/26/2022 2:46:21 PM

TURNERS FALLS — New Assistant Principal Kristen Schreiber looks to make an impact with her classroom experience and socio-emotional expertise as she begins her first year at Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School.

The Ashfield resident began her new job Dec. 29 after being hired in early December. Her addition follows the fall departure of former Assistant Principal Joey Kotright, who had been hired in July and since took an opportunity at another school, according to Gill-Montague Regional School District Superintendent Brian Beck.

Schreiber holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in education, and licenses in special education and administration to go with two decades of teaching experience with first-graders to sixth-graders. Although she admits to experiencing a “steep learning curve” getting to know her new position, Schreiber said she already feels welcomed by the community and capable of elevating their spirits.

Schreiber grew up in Medford before pursuing her degree in psychology and marrying her eventual husband, an Ashfield native. Upon moving to the Pioneer Valley, she spent 11 years teaching students in first, third and fourth grades at Amherst’s Marks Meadow Elementary School and Crocker Farm Elementary School before teaching sixth-graders for nine years at Sanderson Academy in Ashfield. Throughout her teaching experience, she said those around her noticed an affinity for socio-emotional dynamics.

“I think it’s been really helpful to understand how to approach students developmentally,” Schreiber said of her psychology background.

Another attribute Schreiber credits herself with is an abundance of leadership qualities gained from a variety of committee and extracurricular leadership roles she’s engaged with over the years. She highlighted her experience starting Sanderson Academy’s theater program as the pinnacle of her leadership. Now, she said, stepping into the role of assistant principal is a matter of using her skills on a higher level.

“Because I’ve been doing all that leadership, it was natural for me to want to continue that,” Schreiber said.

Above all, Schreiber is a parent of three children aged 12, 15 and 18. She said her experience as a parent supplements her knowledge of child development and socio-emotional psychology.

Despite feeling well-equipped, Schreiber said coming into her new role has not been easy, starting with the decision to take it on in the first place.

“It was really hard,” she said of leaving Sanderson Academy. “It was not a decision that I took lightly to leave, especially mid-year. My students are like my children.”

Schreiber added that learning new policies and protocols, as is typical for anyone transferring into a new school system, has been complicated further by the high rate of staff turnover in the district.

“I’m trying to pick up some things mid-year that maybe haven’t had the full attention of the same person,” she said.

One of the primary reasons she took up the challenge, Schreiber said, is that the school’s strong sense of identity resonated with her. For example, in her brief time at the school, she said students have campaigned for her to attend basketball games and thespians have exuded enthusiasm about their plays.

“There is a pride that comes through in the school,” she said. “I know a lot of people who talk about wanting more of that, but it’s there.”

Schreiber said her primary goal is to not only amplify school pride, but develop students’ sense of pride within themselves.

“My hope is that I can help students recognize the wonderful things that they’re doing,” she said. “I really want to start finding the things we can celebrate.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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