Retired Newton School principal joins Greenfield School Committee

Mayor Ginny Desorgher, at left, swears in new Greenfield School Committee member Melodie Goodwin on Wednesday at the John Zon Community Center.

Mayor Ginny Desorgher, at left, swears in new Greenfield School Committee member Melodie Goodwin on Wednesday at the John Zon Community Center. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-11-2024 3:05 PM

GREENFIELD — The School Committee voted 5-1 on Wednesday to appoint its newest member, retired Newton School Principal and former North Adams Curriculum Director Melodie Goodwin.

Goodwin, who carries more than four decades of experience in education, succeeds former School Committee member Amy Proietti following her resignation more than two weeks ago.

“Every decision I’ve ever made as a teacher and administrator was based on what I believed was best for children. Children always come first,” Goodwin told the committee. “I watched Greenfield School Committee meetings for over 20 years, first as a resident, then as an administrator. Some people watch reality TV shows, principals watch school committee meetings.”

Mayor Ginny Desorgher, who also serves on the School Committee, swore Goodwin in and she took her seat at the committee’s table only moments after the vote to select her among three other candidates — Isaac Mass, Jesus Leyva and Keith Urkiel.

In the first round of voting, each committee member was asked to share their top two candidate choices. Goodwin topped the list with a total of six votes from Desorgher, Kate Martini, Stacey Sexton, Ann Childs and Elizabeth DeNeeve. Mass came in second place at the end of the first round with three votes from Desorgher, Childs and Deneeve, and Leyva came in third with two votes. Committee Chair Glenn Johnson-Mussad cast both of his votes in support of Leyva.

Urkiel, who only received one vote from Martini, was eliminated from the candidate pool after the first round. In discussions, Desorgher said she voted for Goodwin because she considered her to be the most qualified candidate, capable of bringing both an educator’s perspective, as well as an administrator’s perspective, to the table.

“Not only does she have experience as a teacher and an administrator, she has crafted budgets as a principal and these are the strengths that will help me, and I believe all of us, as we face extraordinary challenges with declining enrollment and skyrocketing costs,” Desorgher said.

Sexton said they cast both their votes for Goodwin because of her tremendous reputation as an educational leader in the district and because of the multitude of residents who reached out to them recommending Goodwin for the role.

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On the second round, each committee member was allowed only one vote. Goodwin received four votes while Johnson-Mussad and Deneeve voted for Leyva. Before the committee voted 5-1 in favor of appointing Goodwin to the committee, Johnson-Mussad, who voted “no,” explained his hesitancy.

“While I do really value the experience that Melodie Goodwin brings to the application, I feel it has been a bit of a double-edged sword in the past with this committee to have former administration leaders serving on the committee,” Johnson-Mussad said.

Addressing the committee with introductory remarks, Goodwin recalled developing a project as vice principal of Michael E. Smith Middle School in South Hadley, which required seventh grade students to pass the U.S. citizenship test to qualify for a field trip to Washington D.C. Goodwin said she recently visited the capital and reunited with a former student, who now works as a tour guide with Congressman Jim McGovern’s office.

“Our guide, from McGovern’s office, walked up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘You were my middle school principal. When you brought me here in seventh grade, I knew I would come back here to work.’” Goodwin recounted. “The hearts of teachers expand when we find out we make a difference.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.