Friday, January 17, 2014

Major School Shake Up

UPDATE Sunday afternoon:  School Superintendent Maria Geryk responds with info

Original Post Friday evening
Not one but TWO Amherst Regional Public School principals announced their resignations late this afternoon in separate letters to parents.

Amherst Regional Middle School Principal Betsy Dinger and Fort River Elementary School Principal Monica Hall both announced they were stepping down from their leadership positions at the end of this school year.

But the district website contains no mention of this major development. 

I guess if you're going to clean house, the late afternoon gloomy Friday of a l-o-n-g weekend is as good a time as any.

Ms. Dinger stated she would be "returning to the classroom" (although she does not say where) and Ms. Hall is staying within the Amherst School bureaucracy,  taking a job in Central Office.

Last year Crocker Farm Principal Mike Morris stepped down as principal to move into a training position out of Central Office.

The position of Principal in Amherst schools has been somewhat the revolving door over the past few years, with Fort River having four in the last six years and the Regional Middle School closer to a half dozen.

With the current administration pushing for expanded (from 7-12) regionalization down to the pre-Kindergarten level, you have to wonder how the three other towns (Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury) will view this continuous lack of stability?

From the "It-could-be-worse" file:

(Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette print: Saturday, January 5, 2013)
Michael Hayes’ Dec. 17 resignation as principal of the Regional Middle School means that Amherst has lost principals in each of the last four years.

Ray Sharick resigned as principal of Fort River School in March 2011, while Matthew Behnke resigned from the same job at Wildwood School in April 2010. Glenda Cresto resigned as principal of the middle school in September 2009, just before classes started.

The job of principal of an Amherst school is a demanding one and has taken a grave toll on at least one occasion. In June 1993, John “Jack” Heffley, principal of Amherst Regional High School, had a heart attack and died at 56 while engaged in a heated argument with a parent.

The high cost of "administration" in Amherst Schools 


Walter Graff said...

Two things are happening right now somewhere in the world.

First the teachers from Fort River are partying and toasting. Hall was considered a bitch. She was disliked and liked no one. She was just an angry women who acted like she was better than everyone else. Now it will go to her head as she will get a raise and enjoy little work. I wonder if this means she will have time to get the degree she promised she'd get if they hired her.

Second, someone has a resume that isn't very good and doesn't know that they are abut to hit the lottery because they are actually going to get picked as principal in Amherst MA. And they will be even more excited as they will get paid quite handsomely for not having much experience or knowledge. In fact they will probably get paid more than they ever got paid in their life.

The Amherst gravy train keeps growing. Pretty soon it will be all administration and nothing else.

Anonymous said...


This is vile stuff.

Think a little bit, man.

Anonymous said...

what is Monica Hall's new job? ..... and why does the central office staff continue to grow when there are cuts at the schools? The specials cuts at the elementary schools from last year are still being felt strongly.

Anonymous said...

It's reasonable to infer from the continual turnover of principals, usually by their own volition, that the job in Amherst is a special form of misery.

To quote Walt Kelly's "Pogo" for the umpteenth time, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Walter Graff said...

Think? My use of the term "bitch" was not my own. Not one, but two teachers used that term at separate occasions when I told them the news today. I had no issues with Hall. She was pleasant to me. My kids did tell me that she wasn't nice to them (independently of each other). I can see why. She came off as gruff. My older son used the term "mean".

As for my evaluation of principles, Amherst has two kinds - first, ones too smart to stay in this dysfunctional system or ones asked to leave for being too smart and challenging the central offices poor decisions, and two, the hires that need the work and will kiss anyones ass so they can stay regardless of their resume or performance.

It is vile (as in of little worth or account) - the system in Amherst that is.

Some think it's peachy. That's fine too.

Anonymous said...

"I have been given the opportunity to transition to a position at our Central Office, effective July 1, 2014. I will be assigned to a Director level position working closely with the Superintendent and leadership team around the priorities of equity and diversity, teacher development, and instructional programming."

Larry Kelley said...

I just uploaded both letters back into the copy of the article using their names.

Anonymous said...

is this a new "Director level position working closely with the Superintendent"? or someone leaving?

It's hard to believe that we need any more administrators in our school district..... the number of students in the district is declining and school budgets are tight.

Larry Kelley said...

I made that exact inquiry a couple hours ago, but have not heard back from Maria.

Maybe she's preparing a blog post.

Walter Graff said...

Get ready Amherst:|newswell|text|Frontpage|s

Walter Graff said...


Anonymous said...

Is that an actual (accurate) .pdf of Monica Hall's letter -- because look at the letterhead and how the vice principal's name and title aren't together.

You don't do stuff like that if you want to be taken seriously. You gotta have your letterhead lining up -- or you can write the letter on an old shopping bag with a crayon.

Anonymous said...

Larry, find out what is going on in these schools please.

Anonymous said...

What is going on in these schools is that the parents chew these principals up and then spit them out. You couldn't pay me enough to be a principal in Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

Could be worse: Back in 1993 ARHS Principal Jack Heffley had a heart attack and died while in the middle of a heated argument with a parent.

Anonymous said...

How many new positions in the Central Office have been added in the past 4 years? Do other school districts of our size have these same positions?

Anonymous said...

And nothing has changed since 1993 Larry.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, it may even have become worse.

But it's kind of like hiking Mt. Washington: you should know what the Hell you are getting into before making the attempt.

Anonymous said...

Compare with other communities. Our school principals are public figures in a way that they are not elsewhere.

Perhaps we are asking too much of these folks.

But perhaps also we have blocked pathways for public input into our schools, through our school committee, that cause the focus (and frustration) to be directed elsewhere, perhaps at the principals.

We have a school administration that clearly knows how to mobilize politically to quell dissent, and put down those who dare publicly to ask questions. The kids are even enlisted to shut people up. We've seen that in the past five years or so. And it worked.

So the adults went back underground. But maybe the principals experience the public unhappiness that doesn't get to the school committee level.

Just throwing that out there to the snakepit.

Anonymous said...

Amherst is getting exactly what it asked for. You wanted Maria's vision and that seems to be cuts at the bottom and bloat at the top. No benefit provided to the student body. Lip service explanations about everything. Maria is capable of operating / managing the district. She does not seem to have any vision for progress and if she does someone please be specific about what that is and how it is helping. If you can't be very specific please go home and don't waste our time.

Anonymous said...

Anon 225. I suggest you go and speak directly to Maria Geryk and ask her what her vision is. I am sure she would be happy to share it with you. Get it from the horse's mouth so to speak.

Anonymous said...

"... around the priorities of equity and diversity, teacher development, and instructional programming."

And the taxpayers just roll their eyes.

Anonymous said...

Why are tax payers rolling their eyes?

Anonymous said...

How interesting that Monica Hall's promotion was made public the last school day before the administration makes a presentation on next year's budget before the school committee.

Anonymous said...

Of local interest in the video linked to by Walter Graff on 1/17 is an an opportunity to glimpse former Amherst Regional School Superintendent Jere Hochman.

(For anyone who wasn't around at the time, "Jere" is pronounced "Jerry", and Bedford, NY hired him away at something like twice the salary he was getting here.)

The on-demand video is a blasting of the Common Core curriculum.

Disgruntled Amherst parents who want curriculum choice and curriculum acceleration -- rather than the Common Core curriculum that the current school administration, backed by the current School Committee, is committed to -- could consider bringing a petition article to Town Meeting. This would put the current school administration and School Committee on the back foot relative to parents for a change.


An unordered starting list of tasks for upset parents to undertake follows:

- Organize themselves

- Get Petition forms from the Town Clerk's Office in Town Hall

- Find out from the Town Clerk or Select Board how many signatures will need to be obtained

- Get twenty or thirty percent more than that number to be safe when registered voter signatures get checked

- Settle on specific language for a Town Meeting petition article such as, "To see if the Town will urge the School Administration and School Committee to consider curriculum choice and curriculum acceleration as important priorities that should be respected"

` Arrange to appear before the Select Board to request that they schedule a Special Special Town Meeting to consider the petition article

Anonymous said...

The only problem with the petition to do away with the common core is the fact that it is not a town wide curriculum standard-it is a state-wide standard. Following the common core is not Maria Geryk's idea-it is the Governors idea. Soon The MCAS test, that EVERYONE must pass to get a diploma in MA, will be replaced by PARC, which again everyone will need to pass to get a diploma. The PARC test is based on the common core. That is why the Amherst Regional School District has spent so much time aligning the curriculum with the common core. If you want to get rid of it you must lobby at the state level.

Anonymous said...

I should add that I was at the middle school math presentation. As it was presented the administration has built in pathways for accelerated learning. To say that there are no pathways for accelerated learning in math is not accurate.

Anonymous said...

If there are pathways to accelerated learning, then why do so many highly respected people not know this? Because, umm, they aren't there????

Anonymous said...

The only pathway is for a student to be "allowed" to teach herself in 8 th grade. In her spare time, because she still has to take the 8th grade math she already knows.

How can they come up with such a convoluted plan for 7 and 8th grade and have no idea what the brand new curriculum is for the high school?

Anonymous said...

Isn't the person who made poor hires responsible for the failure of those hires? Who is accountable? Who hired a sup who had never been a principal or supervised a principal?

Anonymous said...

On the principal resignation - these were not poor hires. Obviously the administration values Ms. Hall as she is getting a promotion. And Ms. Dinger is expressing a desire to return to teaching...again, this does not indicate that she did not do a good job as principal. It indicates she does not want to be principal at the Middle School any more. And who would? Again, I'll repeat - Amherst parents chew principals up and spit them out!

On the math issue - there are about a handful of kids in the entire system who are more than one grade ahead in their math ability. At the math presentation the administration said that exceptions to the standard math program would be made for this handful of kids who are so accelerated in their abilities. The administration was sensitive to the fact that there are kids in the system who have different needs then the vast majority of kids and they said that their needs would be met. One of the options available to these kids is the ability to do a math portfolio and the administration is hiring a "portfolio teacher" specifically to work with these kids. What more do these people want, specifically? Accomodations (I don't think I spelled that correctily) will be made for these kids. Their needs are not being ignored. Remember, we are talking about a handful of kids. The math curriculum will meed the demands of the vast majority of students in the Amherst school system.

Anonymous said...

anon: 3:16

I have spoke with her many times. I have asked about her vision. She has a polite way of saying it is a work in progress and that it requires more definition before it is generally known. After a few years of that type of response I gave up.

I think anon 1:50 has some great points. The SC listens but does not act. The Superintendents offices listens but does not act. I know this from trying over and over again. I don't bother the principles with the problems but I know others do.

Maybe it is as simple as the SC and the central administration not doing there job which puts the burden on the Principles. No one is perfect but we have had some good ones leave who were making a difference.

One thing is certain whether it is a the SC, administration, teachers, parents, community leaders, or all of the above. Amherst has issues other communities do not.

Anonymous said...

The math curriculum will meed the demands of the vast majority of students in the Amherst school system.

As long as they neither wish to attend an elite college nor to major in a STEM subject at any college.

And as STEM are really the only majors for whom there are jobs (other than working in WalMart), while the watered-down medocrity may meet the student's "demands", it sure as hell ain't gonna meet their needs!

Parents, you want to be really worried....

Nate Budington said...

Amherst HS students consistently gain admissions to the best colleges in the country and the school is very well-regarded within the college admission community. There may very well be appropriate improvements in programs, curriculum or leadership that need to occur, but the idea that the current status of the high school has a negative effect on college admission is simply untrue.

Kurt Geryk said...

Anonymous 10:23am:

That doesn't sound at all like a response I can imagine Maria giving someone who has visited with her many times to ask her what her "vision" is. You're saying you asked repeatedly over several years, and each time she said "I don't know, it's yet to be defined"? I'm sorry, but that does not sound believable to me. I got a lot of what her "vision" is just listening to her interview before the school committee for the job of superintendent. She's been developing her "vision" within two colleges and in five different school systems for 30+ years, and I've watched her develop and define it the whole way.

It's easy to anonymously say "I keep asking and no one does anything." I feel like you're pulling our leg...who the heck are you, that has been so adamant about getting the central administration and the SC to do what you are asking of them?

Kurt Geryk

Anonymous said...

There is a pathway to take honors calculus in high school. What else does a person need to be a STEM major in college?

Kurt Geryk said...

OK, so I just brought Maria a coffee, and I asked her about Anonymous 10:23's comment. I told her that 10:23 said "I have spoke with her many times. I have asked about her vision. She has a polite way of saying it is a work in progress and that it requires more definition before it is generally known." Maria had a two word response: "That's bullshit." So 10:23, the ball's in your court, you can reveal yourself and give us more specifics, but right now your comments totally lack credulity.

She also said she won't get involved in conversations with anonymous people on a blog, but she said "I live in town, I work in town, I'm easy to find at work, they can come talk to me."

Kurt Geryk

Walter Graff said...

Correlation is not causation. The public does not know the real reasons why any of these people left their positions. And having an argument is not a cause of a heart attack. The correlations as to why people can not stay in a job in the Amherst school system does need to be looked into though.

Come on Amherst. Do you really think your kids are getting the education the deserve? Talk of five and ten year plans are great if you are a football team, but education can not wait that long. It's too late.

Does your son or daughter deserve one year of incompetent administrations trying to find a plan that works, two, even three. How much are your children going to miss that they could have with a competent administration and a school board that doesn't sit on its hands.

How much to do think just year or even two of lackluster schooling will affect your child's future? Your children are not getting all they deserve in the system they are in now.

Anonymous said...


If by vision you mean collaborating with universities, local government, and local businesses then yes I have heard that statement. If this also includes hiring an ombudsperson, getting additional curriculum personnel, modifying curriculum, etc. Then I have seen some of that too.

The issue is that all of these ideas/ concepts are not having a positive impact for my kids. Grade inflation is still the norm. Teachers don't respond to problems quickly. All of my communication with teachers takes weeks. Teacher still used copied pages out of various books, kids are in differentiated classrooms where the differentiated teaching is taught to the bottom or middle (no disrespect to the teachers, this concept seems impossible to achieve), no defined curriculum that I can following at home to help my kids in most classes. The list goes on and on.

I hear the talk and have for some time. I just don't see the results. Sure the High School is better but it to has some issues with less than stellar teachers. Parents swap notes on which teachers to avoid. Does this situation ever end for a town with such high taxes.

Sure lots of kids get into better colleges. How much of that is attributed to their parents (PhD's), tutors, kumon, legacy acceptances and how much is due to the quality of education in the Amherst School system.

On that note how many of the kids struggle during their first years at college because of the holes I have seen in the Amherst education. Has anyone followed up on that aspect?

I don't live in a utopia where perfection is achievable but I would like to think that for the funds we give the schools some of the previously mentioned problems would get resolved. Instead we just keep kicking the can of problems around and around, or at least that is how it feels.

I also don't think the problem lies in things Maria has specifically done. I do however believe she is the only one in a position to guide it to a solution. A solution I will wait for until the kids are out of the ARPS. Then I will kick the can to the next parent.

Kurt Geryk said...

Graff is just a nudzh. Anyone can look back over the last few years of Larry's blog and see that he thinks "Amherst Sucks", and not just the school system, pretty much everything and everyone. He's got a grudge, and his constant carping reflects an unhealthy outlook on life in general. He's a know-it-all, and for some reason he is motivated to drag others down into the sludge with him. Parents, question whether your kids are getting the education you want for them, but do yourself a favor and (continue to) ignore Chicken Little.

Kurt Geryk

Anonymous said...

I am disturbed by the unprofessional and convoluted nature of those two resignation letters. Not the content nor who wrote them, but only that these letters came from building principals of a supposedly good K-12 school system.

A business-like letter of resignation should state three things: (a) that I am resigning (and maybe why, which can include what I'm doing next), (b) that I appreciate the help others have given me (and possibly naming them, individually and/or collectively), and (c) that I wish the organization and my successor the best (depending on circumstances, this can either be omitted or be incredibly sarcastic as long as it is professional on its face).

That's it -- three paragraphs at most, possibly just three sentences. An introductory paragraph (or sentence) to state what the letter is about, and a fifth concluding paragraph to state what the letter was about.

That's not what we have here. Both letters are overly casual, quite convoluted, and I wouldn't have accepted Monica Hart's letter from a high school student -- there are things which are simply not grammatically correct.

Worse, she didn't even line up her tabs properly -- something one reasonably expects of a Middle School student.

This is unprofessional. It's like police officers wearing torn/soiled uniforms and driving dirty cruisers. Yes, they can bust bad guys just as well, and that's how uniforms often get torn in the first place. But outside of an emergency situation, you won't see the officers looking anything other than spotless, not in a professional well-run department because police understand the importance of a professional appearance and demeanor.

The same is true of a school system -- and in this case it is the appearance of your written communications. You are educators, you thus are presenting yourselves to the community as educated persons, and your writing has to display that.

Sloppy letters to parents are like the sloppy overweight police officer at the Doughnut Shop -- it's not something that enhances the professional respect you wish to have.

A building principal is the school equivalent of a Police Lieutenant. Both answer directly to the top (Superintendent and Chief), both are one step down from there. Both are in command of a smaller portion of the whole -- the Principal a building, the Lieutenant a shift (The Chief doesn't work 24/7, he has to sleep occasionally...) Both are high "middle management" -- they supervise others.

Both are role models to the employees whom they supervise.

Larry -- excepting when something has just happened, can you imagine any APD or UMPD LT dressing or looking sloppy? If they (or the Chief) are wearing a uniform in public, it will be the correct uniform, all the little sewn-on stuff will be "right" and it will be spotless. It has to be, and they know it.

So why aren't we asking the equivalent from our school department. No, we don't want them in uniforms, that's inappropriate, but so are these sloppy letters being sent home to parents.

If we are going to take the school system seriously -- and heaven knows it's expensive enough to be taken seriously -- then it's going to have to act professional and stop sending out sloppy stuff like this.

Isn't there anyone over there who understands writing and grammar well enough to help them????

Anonymous said...

Anon 221:
For someone so perfect it surprises me that you fail to understand that these are not resignation letters. A resignation letter is addressed to the Superintendent. These letters are addressed to the families of the middle school students and Fort River students announcing their resignation and thanking a variety of folks. I hope this will not break your bubble of perfecting but the Fort River principal's name in Monica Hall, not Monica Hart.
Letters like this and comments on this blog are some of the reasons why a person would either have to be desperate or not in their right mind to apply for the job of principal of the middle school or Fort River. Those schools seem to have the most vicious parents.

Anonymous said...

You know, when the cops write better than the teachers -- when the written public communications from the police department are more professional than the ones from the school department -- something is wrong.

Popular perception is that cops hate paperwork and aren't good at it -- and there is no small amount of truth in that perception, the officers themselves (at least privately) will often admit they dread paperwork and aren't the best writers.

The same would be true of teachers and handguns -- given the APD-issue Glock -- and a range safety officer both diligent and assertive enough to keep them from accidentally shooting themselves or each other -- I doubt that the teacher's collective marksmanship would be anything beyond abysmal.

Yes, a teacher who was in the Guard or a gun owner might do quite respectably, but I'd be surprised if most of them even hit the target.

But this isn't Israel, proficiency with a firearm is not a skill we ask our teachers to have -- proficiency with the English language is -- and when the cops write better than the teachers, we have a problem...

NB: This is NOT intended as an insult to police officers --- there are some very real reasons why the type of person drawn to police work, particularly the people who are really good at it, have a great deal of trouble with writing and paperwork. My issue is the nonchalant indifference that the teachers -- who ought to be able to write well -- have towards doing so.

BTW: "Nonchalant" is a polite substitute for "doesn't/don't give a f***" -- essentially "indifferent" although with some nuances -- and it does cover more as well -- as long as you either spell it correctly or your spell checker doesn't change it to any number of other words, it can be a very handy word in writing reports.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 2:21

I am anything but a cheer leader for the schools but.......

While I don't think the letters are inspiring I don't think they are all that bad. Monica's rambles but she makes the necessary point. As for format that went out the window with the invention of work processing. No one is taught that anymore.

Besty's was good though kind of over the top with accolades for the community and school but again gave me a good idea what is going on.

Anonymous said...

And having an argument is not a cause of a heart attack.

I must admit that the fatal heart attack -- above and beyond what it had to psychologically do to an awful lot of people -- his family (I assume he had one), the parents, the student himself or herself -- it's not a fun thing to know that you are responsible for someone being dead -- I know.

That child is now in his or her 30's -- that would be one hell of an interesting interview and/or journal article -- how does this person, probably now a parent (or at least with friends who are) view interactions with teachers & principals in light of what happened -- I'm assuming that the child was not a participant in the argument, likely wasn't even there.

If this now-adult wants to come forward, I'd write that article and it'd be fair as I could to everyone involved -- I don't much care what the argument was about, let alone picking sides in it, I'm interested in how the "child" perceived it then, and now. But I digress...

My point is why was the situation allowed to get to that point? If the principal winds up yelling at a parent, the principal has not already lost the argument, but has made lots of mistakes he/she/it ought not have made for it to get to that point.

And if the parent is out of control, it's a choice between calming the parent and calling the police -- and my choice is toward the former, particularly if the individual is intoxicated because often there is a lot more going on in that person's life than whatever the actual issue in front of you is -- it really is largely irrelevant to them -- and as long as you don't make things worse now, you can actually fix it tomorrow when the parent(s) is/are sober.

Principals and police officers should not get into "a heated argument with a parent." Not to the point to cause a heart attack -- I'd like to see any police officer's thoughts to the contrary on this -- and I don't mean in the course of arresting and or chasing someone, officers can (and do) have heart attacks from that.

But if a police officer had a fatal heart attack from nothing more than a "heated argument with a parent" would one say that the police officer screwed up rather badly for the situation to get there in the first place?

That either the parent should have been removed from the situation -- at least long enough to calm down -- or that the officer and/or principal should have removed HIMSELF from the situation -- again, at least briefly.

This is where you put other people between yourself and the person whom you are about tho throw through a wall -- people who aren't involved in the situation and who can get you out of it.

And if you can't control your temper, you ought not be a police officer or principal -- or a lot of other things. It's like domestic violence -- no matter how mad she's made you, you don't hit her -- ever.

The more I think about it, this situation bothers me.

Anonymous said...

For someone so perfect it surprises me that you fail to understand that these are not resignation letters.

OK, a slightly different adjective describing them -- they are the letters announcing their resignation and not their actual letters of resignation. And I was sloppy in merely calling them "resignation letters" and it is grammatically incorrect to start a sentence with and --- I'm not asking for perfection here, merely professionalism.

It's a distinction without a difference when my issue is these are letters that went home to the parents.

I hope this will not break your bubble of perfecting but the Fort River principal's name in Monica Hall, not Monica Hart.

I'm Dyslexic and that was not intentional. I deal with it though -- it's one (of several) reasons why any letter that
am sending out to a group of people is first given to a low-level employee who has no idea what it is about. I ask (usually her) to check the spelling of any names in it, but that I want her to tell me what it is that I (a) want people to do and/or (b) want people to know.

Furthermore, does she understand (a) how to do what it is that I want people to do and/or (b) why I want people to know what it is I want them to know. In other words, does the letter make sense.

If she can't understand it, no one else is going to -- and it usually means I left something out of it. And that's how you get around Dyslexia, but I digress...

Letters like this and comments on this blog are some of the reasons why a person would either have to be desperate or not in their right mind to apply for the job of principal of the middle school or Fort River.

Comments like that are what disgust me as an educator. Why is it that we can tell kids that they are wrong (and flunk them) but if anyone ever evaluates us, we freak out?>

Those schools seem to have the most vicious parents.

What is it that they want, and why can't they be given it? Why are the Principals the lightning rods in the first place? Parents can be unreasonable, but pointing this out does not have to turn into thermonuclear war.

Anonymous said...

While I don't think the letters are inspiring I don't think they are all that bad.

I respectfully disagree.

Remember that at least some of the parents reading these letters speak/read English as a second or third (or fourth) language -- and in some cases (e.g. Mandarin) their native language isn't even conceptually organized the way ours is.

Of those who speak/read English as a second language, no small number of them know some version of the British Commonwealth dialect and not the American one. Europeans actually go so far as to refer to our language as "American" and consider it a completely different language, which it kinda is. There also are some parents who are having the letter translated & read to them, often by a young child.

> Monica's rambles but she
> makes the necessary point.

One taking a quick glance at that letter -- and often all you're going to get is the 5 second quick glance (if that) -- leads one to believe that she is discussing her maternity leave, new child and the rest.

A busy parent is going to glance at the letter, think to himself/herself "yes, I know she's out on maternity leave, I'm glad the delivery went well for her, so that's what she named the kid" and toss the letter into the trash.

That is my point about telling the reader what it is about, why the reader wants/needs to read the rest.

The only mention she makes of her status of Principal is that she will be returning in March. You have to get to the third paragraph -- and be able to comprehend not only what "the opportunity to transition to a position at our Central Office" even means but further that it would preclude her being Principal any more.

Remember, we're supposed to be "socially just" and understanding of folk who don't know our language all that well -- they're not going to understand what any of that means....

You have to get halfway through the last paragraph before she even mentions "leave Fort River" -- and then she concludes by saying that she will "remain a part of the Fort River School" -- as Americans, we know what she means by this -- but starting a sentence with a dependent clause as she has is a peculiar American thing and a lot of people are going to take the second half of the sentence literally -- that she is physically remaining in that building.

Nowhere does she explicitly state "I will no long be Principal of Fort River" or anything explicit like that, which is the purpose of this letter.

As for format that went out the window with the invention of work processing.

My big issue is the extra tab (or two) that caused Diane Chamberlain's name on one line and her title to kick down to the second. That *is* taught today -- you take one (or more) tabs out and the title jumps back up where it is supposed to be.

My guess is that she got an extra hard return or two in the top of the masthead ("The Public Schools")which bounced that down, which bounced the phone number down into the line (which I could live with) but it also got into Diane's name so she intentionally created the aforementioned problem as a solution.

More importantly, if this is an official school department letterhead -- which I believe it is -- then it should be a macro or something that isn't changing in the first place -- that's the IT department.

In summation, however, if you are telling parents that you are no longer going to be the principal of their school, that should be the FIRST thing you say and you should say it explicitly.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me anon 510? Need I say more about how principals very chewed up and spit out.
Perhaps someone could write their doctoral dissertation analyzing Ms Hall's letter.
Someone has way too much time on their hands. I am a Fort River parent and I received Monica's letter in an email. I didn't even notice the incorrect tabbing of the vice principal. I read the entire letter through from start to finish in a couple of minutes and understood it completely. Since I am an American I have no trouble reading American English. I think most of our parents are American and those who are translating for others are also probably American. Odd as it may seem is not hard to find Americans in America who understand that odd thing known as American English.

Anonymous said...

"The only problem with the petition to do away with the common core is the fact that it is not a town wide curriculum standard-it is a state-wide standard. Following the common core is not Maria Geryk's idea-it is the Governors idea. Soon The MCAS test, that EVERYONE must pass to get a diploma in MA, will be replaced by PARC, which again everyone will need to pass to get a diploma. The PARC test is based on the common core. That is why the Amherst Regional School District has spent so much time aligning the curriculum with the common core. If you want to get rid of it you must lobby at the state level."

The video linked to by Walter Graff on 1/17 includes reference to PARC and New York state's version of MCAS.

The audience is advised to contact state legislators to get them to. in turn, lean on or appoint new education Regents who would have the power to overturn the state level Common Core requirement.

The video shows solid community support for fullest curriculum choice in Bedford, NY schools.

Superintendent Jere Hochman, whom Bedford, NY hired away from Amherst, appears to have exercised real leadership in battling Common Core, and having mobilized the community behind him.


At Town Meeting, the School Administration can, if it chooses, defend (to parents and taxpayers) a stance opposing its being urged to treat curriculum choice and curriculum acceleration as important priorities that should be respected by it and the School Committee.


Bedford, NY and the School Superintendent It hired away from Amherst show what can be done in the on -demand video.

Anonymous said...

". I will be assigned to a Director level position working closely with the Superintendent and leadership team around the priorities of equity and diversity, teacher development, and instructional programming."

Isn't this what Marta is supposed to do?

Anonymous said...

Amherst schools have way too much bloat at the administration level and it seems that the bloat doesn't deem it necessary to provide competency in its communications. I work for an educational institution and you wouldn't believe the mistakes that appear on resumes from so-called professionals. Just so you know, in our office those resumes go right into the garbage. Perhaps Amherst doesn't believe that correctly written missives are necessary, whether written to parents or "higher ups," but some of us do. Maybe it just proves that standards here in town are falling. Not a very good example for our kids...

Anonymous said...

Interesting article about the common core.

Anonymous said...

A while back the administration and news articles mentioned that there would be a discussion at the Jan 28th School Committee (SC) meeting about the school's nut restriction guidelines and district policies towards food allergies. Though it is not clearly identified on the agenda for tonight's SC meeting (,%202014%20Agenda.pdf) it seems like such a discussion could take place under item 5A "Policy Discussion." Communication with the central office indicated that indeed the, at tonight's meeting, SC will be considering whether a district food allergy policy should be developed by the policy subcommittee. From the agenda itself, people might not realize this...... but maybe that's what the administration is hoping.

Anonymous said...

I think more than principals are leaving, where is my sons bus driver?

Larry Kelley said...

You mean Carlos?

Anonymous said...

Yes Larry, I am speaking of Carlos, the other driver told my son he would not be his driver any more and would not be seeing him again (?)

Anonymous said...

Funny, my daughter just told me that her bus driver told her that she would not be returning next year. It's a shame that there seems to be a turn over on drivers at the school also. Maybe it is a problem in all departments?