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Former Frontier Regional principal Modestow starts new school year as interim superintendent

He replaces Superintendent Lynn Carey, who announced in May she would depart after two years on the job

  • MODESTOW

  • LANIDES

  • Frontier Regional School. FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Thursday, August 30, 2018

DEERFIELD — Summer break wasn’t restful for everyone in the Frontier Regional and Union 38 school districts, as at least three administrators have spent a couple of months gearing up for their first full academic year in new positions.

Darius Modestow signed a $135,000 contract in June to become the districts’ interim superintendent and Kristina Kirton and George Lanides have been welcomed to the area as principals. Kirton comes directly from Holyoke and was hired to lead Whately Elementary School, while Lanides left a job at Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham to serve as Modestow’s replacement as principal of Frontier Regional School.

Frontier teachers went back today ahead of students, who will arrive Thursday.

“It’s been a very active summer for me,” Modestow said, “just bringing team administrators together … to basically set the agendas for the new school year, including professional development for teachers, getting all the hirings finalized, teachers and support staff, as well hiring two principals in my first two weeks.”

Modestow said he believes in having a strong administrative team because that strength trickles down to educators and, in turn, to students.

Modestow, 45, replaces Superintendent Lynn Carey, who announced in May she would depart after two years on the job. He said this will be his 11th year in the district, having been principal at Frontier Regional for five years and assistant principal before that. He attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to become a social studies teacher and earned a master’s degree from Bridgewater State College.

Modestow’s contract as interim superintendent will last until June 30, 2019. His principal contract, which had one more year on it, will grant him a one-year leave, and then end June 30, 2020. He explained the school district will decide mid-year whether to open a search or make him superintendent. The district will have to negotiate a new contract regardless of who its new superintendent is following this coming school year.

Kirton, 48, worked at Lt. Clayre P. Sullivan School in Holyoke for 26 years — teaching first grade for 23 years and serving as assistant principal for three. She visited the area after a friend shared the job posting with her.

“I sort of felt right away that this is somewhere I want to be,” she said, adding that the community has been receptive in a way that is “almost not to be believed.”

“We’ve been busy preparing the physical space, we have everything clean and prepared and ready to go,” she said.

Kirton earned a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and a master’s from American International College in Springfield.

Lanides, 50, is also a UMass Amherst graduate and said he fell in love with western Massachusetts years ago. He has also previously worked in Greenfield and Westfield. He said he has been warmly welcomed in Deerfield and is excited to meet the students, which he said are the lifeblood of any school. He said the local school committee has been helpful and he looks forward to helping to grow his new school’s arts program.

Lanides earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York and taught history in the Bronx to start his career.

“It’s a great place to get your start teaching and I absolutely loved it,” he said of the experience.

Modestow said the districts’ two new hires have hit the ground running.

“We’ve got two wonderful leaders and I’ve been impressed so far this summer with their work. They’ve been great so far,” he said. “I’m exited to get the school year going. It’s a quiet, lonely summer without the students and teachers here.”

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.