New leadership at Lee Middle and High School



The 2012-13 school year in Berkshire County brought a number of changes in administrative staff at local schools, from both the K-12 sector and in higher education.

The Learning page is running a series of articles briefly highlighting these new administrators and what they've learned since being on the job, based on their responses to a brief questionnaire.

This week's report is the sixth installation in the series and features two administrators from Lee Middle and High School, Principal Joe Turmel and Dean of Students Art Reilly.

Both have been with the school district, Lee Public Schools, for a number of years, but are new to these positions this year. The school currently has about 400 students enrolled from Grades 7 through 12.

The district is also in the process of looking for an interim superintendent, as current Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless prepares to transition into the same role in Pittsfield Public Schools.

The whole new administrator series can be read online at

The next group of profiles will run May 7.

Meet Joe Turmel

Position: Principal for Lee Middle and High School.

Hometown and current town of residence: West Springfield.

Previous position: Turmel previously served as assistant principal at Lee Middle and High School.

A favorite thing about your new job: The people and the students that I get to interact with on a daily basis. Dr. McCandless has been a great mentor. We have a really good staff that is energetic and willing -- they want to do more. Ever since I first came here, the parents, kids and community in general have been really welcoming.

One goal you have or issue you'd like to address during the current school year: Expand after-school offerings and programs. One thing we've really focused on here is making sure all our decisions are based on kids' needs. From the top down, kids are put in the forefront of all decision making in the school.

We've been working really hard on adding electives to our schedule. We've been working with an AP (Advanced Placement) grant, which has provided professional development to allow us to offer more AP courses.

Students now have a lot of opportunities they haven't had in the past. It puts us in a position to compete and allow students coming in through the high school to take advantage of seven to eight AP classes. It's a real nice culture change for our school.

Meet Art Reilly

Position: Reilly is the dean of students this year at Lee Middle and High School. He continues to serve as the school's athletic director.

Hometown and current town of residence: He grew up in the Bennington, Vt., area and has traveled around, but he's been living in Berkshire County for more than 30 years, primarily in Lenox Dale.

Previous position: Physical education teacher for Lee Middle and High School. He's also previously taught physical education at Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton, and has coached a number of Berkshire County athletic teams.

A favorite thing about your new job: I get to get involved with the climate and culture of the school by working to support the staff and students. The transition for me this year could not have been easier. Joe Turmel and Jake McCandless both have been in this position before. Their support has been instrumental in making the job enjoyable for me. Sue Baker (principal's assistant) offers tremendous support and is encouraging and helpful. The students are wonderful. We've have a number of changes this year and they've handled them well. Parents also have been involved in things here in a very positive way.

One goal you have or issue you'd like to address during the current school year: Getting kids involved in things. Joe Turmel has put forth some wonderful ideas and my job is really to support that. We've done a lot with AP classes and SAT prep this year. Getting kids more involved in things, whether it's athletics or drama or other after-school programs, is key to getting their academics up.


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