GREAT BARRINGTON -- A nationwide search is on to replace Muddy Brook Elementary Principal Thad Dingman, who will be leaving at the end of the school year.
Dingman, who was hired in 2010, will wrap up his responsibilities on June 30 to take a principal job at an elementary school in Arlington.
Dingman said he began exploring positions late last year following a conversation with his wife about long-term goals. The couple decided there are more opportunities for career advancement on the state's eastern end, and Dingman will also be better located to finish his doctoral degree.
"There are days when I am excited and I can look pragmatically at what good gains we've had and feel good about the trajectory," Dingman said. "And then there are days where I am heartbroken. I know every kid and all the families. I can say I have a tremendous love for this community."
The district will accept applications through March 31 and then possibly on a rolling basis after that. Berkshire Hills Regional School District Superintendent Peter Dillon said background and experience would determine salary, but he said Dingman was earning $93,784 for 220 days of work.
Dillon said the district is searching for someone with at least five years of experience. The candidate should also have a deep understanding of learning and how to support both adults and students.
"We'd like someone to build on the successes to date," Dillon said. "To continue focusing on curriculum work, socio-emotional learning and community partnerships."
Dillon praised Dingman for creating a positive school tone, supporting academic growth, and working well with a Parent Teacher Association group that has blossomed.
"He gets the national trends and [school-related research] and he has very strong connections with kids, family and community organizations," Dillon said.
In four years, Muddy Brook's testing scores appear to be headed in the right direction. The math and English language arts scores have improved in the last year, but the school has been designated a Level 2 school, which means it is not narrowing its achievement gap.
MCAS math scores have improved by 10 percentage points in four years, with 55 percent of the students now scoring proficient or advanced. But ELA MCAS scores are lower than four years ago, despite a schoolwide 10 percentage point gain last year to 56 percent.
Dingman said the school is on the right course with a positive school culture and curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core Curriculum, following a grade-by-grade review of teaching components. He said he's proud of the school's community engagement, but there is opportunity to grow the partnerships developed with Berkshire South, Flying Cloud and many other community groups.