New principal selected for Monument Mountain Regional High School

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Monument Mountain Regional High School has found its next principal.

Amy Rex was offered the job on Monday morning after a final round of meetings on Friday with students, faculty and members of the school community.

"I'm impressed with the mission and philosophy of the school," Rex told faculty members during a question-and-answer session on Friday.

Rex's salary will be negotiated, said Peter Dillon, superintendent of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District.

The co-principal at Harwood Union Middle and High School in Moretown, Vt., Rex beat out two other finalists for the position. Alan Strauss, the principal of Gilbert High School in Winsted, Conn., and Jennifer Chassman, the assistant principal at Holyoke High School, were the other two finalists.

The position was made available by the retirement of outgoing Principal Marianne Young, who was the high school's administrator for 16 of the past 18 years. Young was Monument's principal from 1999 to 2007, and she returned to the position in 2009 after two years as superintendent for the Lenox Public Schools.

Young's departure sparked a search that lasted for a little over two months.

The three finalists came from a pool of 21 candidates, Dillon said. The pool was developed from two rounds of recruitment. The first round was advertised locally and in the SchoolSpring education jobs website. Dillon felt that the net should be cast more widely, he said, so a second round of advertisements in Education Weekly followed.

Six candidates were selected for interviews, and that pool was further narrowed to Chassman, Rex and Strauss.

"All three finalists came from the second round of advertisement," said Dillon.

The involvement of the community was essential to the decision to hire Rex. Under Massachusetts law, the choice was solely the superintendent's, Dillon said, but he wanted public input, so he formed an advisory group of 30 members of the school's faculty, students and the district community to assist him in the selection process.

"I wanted to see who the school liked," Dillon said.

Friday's final round of interviews let the candidates make their case to the people they planned to work with. The candidates held two informal chats — with the community and faculty and with students, respectively — and a tour of the school with Vice Principal Scott Annand and three students.

Rex was peppered with questions from students about her priorities as principal and her views on student involvement with school administration.

At Harwood, Rex said, the school formed a leadership team and facilitated all-school dialogs twice a year. That would not have been possible without the entire body coming together, Rex said.

"Having the student perspective is critical," she said.

Rex said that her communication strategy focuses on "equity of voice" in all school dialog to ensure everyone in the school's community can weigh in on actions and decisions.

"It's good to have help in the planning process," she said. "In schools, there's never a shortage of work to do."

Reach staff writer Eoin Higgins at 413-496-6236 or @BE_EoinHiggins.


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