Whately Elementary selects Kristina Kirton as new principal

  • Whately Elementary School has selected a new principal, who is expected to start this week. RECORDER FILE/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/10/2018 4:44:06 PM

WHATELY — After an extensive search process including a review of more than 30 applicants, Whately Elementary School now has a new principal.

Kristina Kirton, a former first-grade teacher of 20 years, comes from the Holyoke Public Schools, where she most recently served as an administrator developing curriculum.

Members of the search committee described her as student-first, and valued by her peers.

“She has a really nice way about her, having been a first-grade teacher for a long time,” Whately School Committee Chairwoman Katie Edwards said.

The search committee made its decision the last week of June and formally announced the decision this week.

After an applicant pool of 34, the search committee — consisting of School Committee members, parents, teachers, faculty and a Selectboard member — interviewed 11 candidates before narrowing it down to three finalists. Newly appointed Superintendent Darius Modestow made the ultimate decision.

Modestow said he appreciated Kirton knowing the teaching side of school administration and that when she switched over after two decades of classroom work to the role she’s held the past three years, she held the “respect of the building.”

Modestow said since the district and school is student-focused, they “need a leader that will work with teachers and improve outcomes of students.” This is where Modestow feels Kirton will thrive.

“Her many years of classroom teaching experience and expertise in early literacy, combined with three years as an administrator in a large urban school, make her well prepared to lead Whately Elementary School,” Director of Elementary Curriculum Louise Law said in an email.

Law lauded Kirton as an “accomplished educator” and one who received “overwhelmingly positive” reviews from families and community members during a “meet and greet” held.

“The members of the principal interview committee were impressed with Ms. Kirton’s depth of knowledge of elementary curriculum, and understanding of specific ways that a principal can support students, teachers and families,” Law said. “She demonstrated personal warmth, humor, and thoughtfulness throughout the interview process.”

Edwards hopes Kirton will be able to lead the school through regional conversations of declining enrollment and in doing so, she will have a chance to lead a “gem of a school in the Pioneer Valley.”

Kirton is expected to start this week.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at: jsolomon@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.


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