Three Four Rivers head of school finalists introduced in virtual town hall

  • From top right, counterclockwise: Candidate Jenni Manfredi, Four Rivers Charter Public School parent Anthony Reiber, student Liam Black, candidates St. Claire Adriaan and April West participate in a candidate forum to introduce the three finalists in the head of school/principal search. Screenshot

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 4/6/2022 4:12:15 PM
Modified: 4/6/2022 4:11:38 PM

GREENFIELD — Three finalists have been named in the search for the next head of school/principal at Four Rivers Charter Public School.

“These finalists have, together, more than 60 years of combined educational experience and have worked at all levels — teaching, school leadership, coaching and counseling — to ensure all students have access to excellent and amazing learning opportunities,” said Liam Black, a Four Rivers student who moderated a virtual town hall Tuesday night.

Those finalists are April West, who serves as senior director of school support with the Achievement Network; Jenni Manfredi, associate principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton; and St. Claire Adriaan, who is the founding middle school principal at Academy of the City Charter School in Queens, New York.

The search for a new head of school/principal follows Peter Garbus’ decision to not return for what would have been his 15th year in the role.

The search kicked off 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.

In the interim, Zevey Steinitz is serving as acting head of school.

The candidate forum on Tuesday night offered the candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community and answer questions submitted by students, staff and families.

Between Wednesday and Thursday, all three candidates are being interviewed by the board of trustees, in virtual meetings that are open to the public. Links can be accessed at

April West

West, a resident of Ashfield, said she wasn’t actively searching for a new job when the position at Four Rivers opened.

“I’m actually quite content in general at my current job, but I do feel there’s no other school in the area that’s as aligned with my educational values,” she said.

West said if she is hired at Four Rivers, she would “be a leader that’s aligned with her core values.”

“I’m a transparent leader,” she added. “I think one of the best things I can do for a school community is engage in processes that are as transparent as possible so even if we don’t all finally feel we’re in agreement with a decision, we at least understand how we arrived at that decision.”

She emphasized her past experience as a leader of a charter school in Adams, Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School.

“I successfully helped improve outcomes for students at BART Charter in the Berkshires,” West said. “I dedicate myself to the schools I serve. The last school I was at, I was at for 12 years. I’m looking for a school to be my home community for me, and I’m really excited for that possibility at Four Rivers.”

Jenni Manfredi

Manfredi said her early feelings toward education — that schools can and must do better to serve all students and families — have led her to the role at Four Rivers.

“I’ve learned that schools like Four Rivers do just that,” said Manfredi, who described herself as a scientist at her core, having studied biology at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“I appreciate how Four Rivers focuses on students developing their skills as investigators, critical thinkers and communicators,” she continued. “All those are key skills of a scientist, but also an informed global citizen.”

Manfredi said she has a “distributive leadership style.”

“To do that well … is to really coach and develop people in their own capacities as leaders,” she said.

Asked why she’s the best candidate for the job, Manfredi said she’s been envisioning this possibility for years.

“I believe we can tap into our collective power and creativity to leap forward to continue to excel and grow in the direction that (the school) wants to grow in,” Manfredi said. “I am prepared to help lead this path.”

St. Claire Adriaan

Adriaan described himself as a “lifelong learner.”

“I grew up in South Africa as a person of color and received an inferior education based on that,” he said. “My mission in life then was that education was my weapon against apartheid and my weapon against oppression. … They could tell me where to sit, they could tell me where to stand … but they could never take away what I know. I’m that committed to education.”

He described himself as a restorative leader, encompassing characteristics of transformative and democratic leadership.

“The first thing is to acknowledge I don’t know everything,” he said. “So I surround myself with people who supplement exactly what my shortcomings are, so that together, as a unit, we are able to lead.”

Adriaan said he was especially drawn to Four Rivers for its commitment to anti-racism.

“With diversity, equity and inclusion, I always add belonging,” he said. “So in reality, that means I am teaching the whole child. I am about anti-racism and Four Rivers speaks my language. They produce the graduate that I was, wanted to be and want to create.”

Tuesday’s full forum can be viewed on YouTube at

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


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