Pearl Rhodes principal resigns, Bernardston principal takes over

  • Deanna Leblanc recently resigned as principal of Pearl Rhodes Elementary School, accepting a position as assistant principal at Gateway Regional Middle and High School in Huntington.

  • Bob Clancy contributed photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 8/31/2017 10:17:25 PM

LEYDEN — Bernardston Elementary School Principal Bob Clancy is taking on a new role this year, doubling as Pearl Rhodes Elementary School’s principal in neighboring Leyden.

Clancy stepped in to replace former principal Deanna Leblanc, who announced last month she accepted another job and would not return for the 2017-2018 school year.

Though efforts to reach Leblanc were unsuccessful, Gateway Regional School District’s website shows Leblanc as the assistant principal of Gateway Regional Middle and High School in Huntington.

Pioneer Valley Regional School District Superintendent Ruth Miller suggested during the School Committee meeting she felt Leblanc found another job due to the discussion about potentially closing Pearl Rhodes — which currently has 33 students according to Administrative Assistant Carolyn Curtis. However, no decisions have been made regarding closure.

“It’s been conversation in the town of Leyden, and maybe Deanna was feeling nervous that the school would close while she was there,” Miller said. “She has a family and she felt like she needed to find another job. So it’s very short notice.”

Leblanc worked as Pearl Rhodes principal for one year, serving concurrently as early education coordinator for the district as Christine Maguire had done before her. Renee Keir, a teacher at Bernardston Elementary, will now double as early education coordinator.

Miller said because of discussion around potentially closing Pearl Rhodes, and because of the school’s close proximity to Bernardston Elementary (a 13-minute commute), she thought having Clancy work as principal for both seemed like the best decision. Though $52,800 was budgeted for Leblanc’s salary, Clancy will receive an extra $10,000 for his additional services, Miller said.

Clancy, who has been Bernardston Elementary’s principal for seven years, said that for the time being, his being Pearl Rhodes’ principal is a one-year assignment. He believes administrators may assess in mid-winter how the situation is working and whether it’s important for Pearl Rhodes to have its own principal.

“For the moment, I really am going back and forth between the two buildings, making sure everyone is getting the attention they deserve,” Clancy said of balancing his responsibilities.

Clancy plans to craft a more routine schedule, and work on getting to know students and their families at Pearl Rhodes, the school he feels is “really the sister school to Bernardston.”

“If the other needs me, I will hop right back over,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m 100 percent for both. Obviously I can’t be in both buildings at the same time, but I want to make it work.”

Town officials seem to have mixed feelings about the new arrangement. Some in the audience expressed concern about how Clancy could balance Pearl Rhodes, with 33 students, and Bernardston Elementary, with 158 students, while others were happy to find a solution so last minute.

“I, as a town official, feel Bernardston is entitled to and should have a full-time principal,” Bernardston Selectman Robert Raymond said, adding that Clancy is out of the building frequently enough for administrative meetings.

“I think Leyden is fortunate to have Bob step in at the last minute,” Leyden Selectman Jeffrey Neipp said. “It might give the superintendent and the School Committee some additional revenue that’s needed elsewhere in the district.”

Students and families interested in meeting Clancy are encouraged to attend open houses on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at 5:30 p.m. at Bernardston Elementary and Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 5:30 p.m. at Pearl Rhodes.

Reach Shelby Ashline at:

413-772-0261 ext. 257


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