Turners Falls High, Great Falls Middle schools to see all new administrators

  • From left to right, Turners Falls High School Dean of Students Mike Duprey, Principal Joanne Menard and Assistant Principal Tom Gaffigan. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • McKinley

Staff Writer
Published: 8/19/2019 5:03:02 PM

MONTAGUE — Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School have all new administrators this year, whose goals include making themselves more accessible to students and giving students a voice in how their school is run.

“All this boils down to relationships,” said Principal Joanne Menard (pronounced like “Joanie”). “Without relationships between students and staff, staff and staff, you can’t go forward with much of anything.”

Along with Menard, the four-person administrative team is made up of Assistant Principal Tom Gaffigan and Deans of Students Mike Duprey and Rebel McKinley. All four are new to Turners Falls, but have previous experience in education and other lines of work.

■Principal Menard worked for the last four years as principal of Petersham Center School. Before that, she taught science and math at Medway Middle School for 11 years, and had previously worked as a sales manager.

■Assistant Principal Gaffigan worked as assistant principal at Greenfield High School for five years, a history teacher at Pioneer Valley Regional School for eight years and, most recently, a substitute teacher at Franklin County Technical School last year. He worked in construction before going into education.

■Dean of Students Duprey was brought in partway through last year to fill the unexpectedly vacant assistant principal position. Previously, was principal of preschool through eighth grade in the Winchester, N.H., public school district. He has also been assistant principal of Pioneer Valley Regional School, an elementary physical education teacher at Pioneer, and was the original owner of the Body Shoppe Health and Fitness Center in Greenfield.

■Dean of Students McKinley was, for the last five years, the principal and program director of the Robert F. Kennedy Academy in Springfield, a therapeutic school for students with disabilities. Before that, she directed various nonprofit organizations in youth development and disability services for 22 years.

Having two deans of students is new for the middle-high school, and is meant to help establish stronger relationships between the deans and their students, Menard said. Each grade level is assigned to a dean, who stays with that group of students through graduation. This year Duprey is with grades six, eight, 10 and 12, and McKinley is with seven, nine and 11. The grade assignments will alternate each year, so that each new group of students will have the same dean through graduation.

Administrators are making an effort to be physically accessible to students during lunchtime and between classes, Menard said.

They are also actively seeking input from students on how the school’s atmosphere can be improved, and they plan to meet regularly with groups of students, Menard said. Menard and Gaffigan will be forming a student club on improving the social atmosphere of the school, which they will participate in.

“The kids are talking about making it a more inclusive school for all,” Gaffigan said. “There were some great recommendations from them on what they feel would make the school a better place.”

Even in smaller ways, students’ input is influencing the school’s atmosphere. Music will be played Monday mornings, at students’ suggestion, Menard said. The senior class asked to come to school early on the first day to watch the sunrise from the football field. Throughout the year there will be spirit days and pep rallies.

“This is a really good school. It’s full of some very dedicated teachers that really care about the kids and it’s full of great kids,” Duprey said. “It’s a matter of taking what we have and pulling out the best in everyone.”

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.

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