Search underway for head of school at Four Rivers in Greenfield

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School Principal and Head of School Peter Garbus speaks to attendees of the school’s 2021 commencement ceremony. A search is underway to find a replacement for Garbus, who announced at the start of the school year his decision not to return for what would have been his 15th year in the role. STAFF FILE PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/12/2022 3:49:14 PM
Modified: 1/12/2022 3:48:21 PM

GREENFIELD — A search is underway to replace Four Rivers Charter Public School’s longtime Head of School Peter Garbus, who announced at the start of the school year his decision not to return for what would have been his 15th year in the role.

In a decision that factored in a Leukemia diagnosis and the upcoming year of treatment and recovery, Garbus decided not to return to his post at the school on Colrain Road.

“I’ve grown so much over these years and hope I’ve contributed to the school’s success,” Garbus wrote in a letter to the school community. “Change brings opportunity. Given the school’s strengths, it seems a good time to seek a new school leader, someone who can build on its foundations while also bringing new ideas, approaches and skills.”

Zevey Steinitz is serving as acting head of school.

The search for a new head of school kicked off almost immediately with the selection of a search firm and the creation of an internal search committee made up of two students, two faculty members, two members of the school administration and four board members, according to board of trustees Chair Josh Parker, who noted some members of the committee double as parents or teachers, for example.

“We feel like we’ve got a really good sampling of all different community groups that make up Four Rivers and would want to be part of the process,” Parker said. “It was really important for us to do that.”

The kick-off meeting with the national consulting firm Stronger Consulting took place last week.

“We looked locally, but there’s not a lot of search firms … that have worked with charter schools and understand EL (Expeditionary Learning),” Parker said.

The search committee is in the phase of updating the job description, he said. The consulting firm will take the information provided by the committee and return with proposed edits.

Once the description is finalized, the job will be posted, according to Parker, who anticipates that will happen within the next two weeks.

He explained the firm’s job will be to do the initial vetting of applications, and the search committee will conduct the first round of interviews. The top candidates will be submitted for consideration by the board of trustees, which will conduct the final round of interviews and invite candidates to tour the campus, whether in-person or remotely.

Parker said the school is looking for an individual who understands the ideals of Four Rivers and the EL education model. That doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have worked in it, he added.

Parker said committee members have expressed a desire for the next leader to place trust in the school’s current teachers and leaders.

“We’ve got a great core, and we want to make sure — Peter did this — our next leader recognizes this and trusts the team,” he said.

He added that students have expressed a desire for the next leader to make the same effort Garbus did to get to know the students.

“Peter really forged great relationships and really took the opportunity to get to know the students,” he said. “They want to see that continue, of course.”

Parker, who has known Garbus for more than a decade as the leader of the school that both of his daughters attended, said he really got to know Garbus through his role as chair of the board of trustees.

“It was a shock when he called me and let me know what was going on,” Parker recalled of his conversation with Garbus at the start of the summer. “We knew he needed to focus on his treatment and going through that process. Then he called me in September and said he wanted to sit down and talk.”

In that conversation, he learned of Garbus’ decision not to return to Four Rivers.

“I understood it,” he said.

Parker said the school has only had two heads of school in its 19-year history, so to welcome a new leader will be interesting.

“Peter will always be a big part of the school,” he said. “And we’re going to miss having him there.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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