GREAT BARRINGTON — After 13 years in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, Muddy Brook Elementary School Principal Mary Berle has resigned.
She told the School Committee about her leaving the job Feb. 15. She will serve out the academic year as principal, and her last day will be June 30.
Berle said she's leaving her job to pursue new possibilities and career opportunities.
"My youngest just graduated and is a freshman in college," said Berle, noting that before she spent more than a dozen years as an educator, she worked for 10 years at a research and development firm. "I'm ready for the next adventure."
Superintendent Peter Dillon said Berle has had many roles during her years in the district — she's been a third grade teacher, a director of learning and teaching, staff developer, principal — and she has excelled at all of them.
"She's been very effective in all those roles, and we're going to miss her," he said.
Dillon said he hopes to have a new Muddy Brook Elementary School principal hired by July 1, to make for a seamless transition. The district will begin advertising for the position soon and will form a search committee to screen candidates.
"We'll do a big search for someone with strong content knowledge, education and people skills," he said. "We want someone who can relate to staff and parents and kids and somebody who can continue to move the ball in terms of leadership."
Berle became principal in 2014 when then-principal Thad Dingman resigned. Among her most prized accomplishments while working in-district is instituting a collaborative care model that brought mental health, nutrition, medical and social services to the nearly 350 students at the K-4 school. Partnering in the initiative to bring expertise to children and families are Brien Center, Berkshire Medical Center, Austen Riggs Center, Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Berle may be better remembered by the students, however, for starting the school's popular unicycle club. And Berle said she is also proud to have expanded early childhood programming so that local children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
Berkshire Hills Regional School District School Committee Chairman Stephen Bannon said Berle has been an asset to the district in all her many roles, and she will be missed. Bannon is especially appreciative of Berle's ability to connect the school with the larger community.
"Mary was and is a great principal; she's done a great job for us," Bannon said. "Her outreach to the community, to bring in so many community groups to help, was great."
Berle said her advice to the next Muddy Brook principal — to any principal, really — is to find where change can be made and go for it.
"The work is to define the problems that need to be solved and do the best you can and always look for partners to collaborate with," she said. "And be nice to the kids and the families. Be good to everybody: respect and dignity for all."
Kristin Palpini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @kristinpalpini on Twitter, and 413-629-4621.