LENOX — As he prepares to exit from an extended 20-month tenure as interim schools superintendent, multiple tributes to William “Bill” Cameron’s leadership highlighted this week’s final School Committee meeting of the academic year.
After steering the town’s public schools through the stresses and strains of hybrid learning, and a multiweek shutdown of the middle and high school this spring because of asbestos issues, Cameron departs June 30.
At Monday’s meeting, Lenox Education Association President Mary Cherry, representing the union’s executive board, saluted Cameron for staying on much longer than expected as a temporary, part-time assignment expanded to “a long-term, much more than full-time position.”
“We are beyond grateful that Dr. Cameron stuck with us through the most extraordinary and challenging year all of us have ever experienced in education,” Cherry said.
The union leader and math teacher at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School credited the superintendent for “many lessons, including being precise with my words. He is a highly effective educator.”
Citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Cherry described Cameron as “the leader Lenox Public Schools needed, working proactively with administrators, educators, nurses, the Department of Public Health, the School Committee, parents and the LEA to help us navigate the new landscape that was to be education under COVID.”
Cherry said that “he valued input from all stakeholders and worked to form a coalition of administrators and union leaders” as he faced challenges that went beyond the pandemic.
“Dr. Cameron met them all, drawing on his experience, knowledge, humor, the occasional reference to an ancient philosopher or historian, and dedication to the students and broader school community,” she said. “He has done so with grace, patience and wisdom. We will remember him fondly and carry forward the lessons he has taught us.”
Echoing Cherry’s remarks, School Committee Chairman Robert Vaughan said: “We have been grateful for his guidance through these very difficult two years. There was nobody in Berkshire County who could have led the schools the way Bill did. He has been our leader in extraordinary times.”
“Every place that somebody works is new, every place is unique,” Cameron said. “I thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow after I thought I had retired from the superintendency.”
He expressed embarrassment over the effusive praise from Cherry.
“Working with the LEA has not been a struggle,” he said, in contrast to the adversarial atmosphere he had encountered at times in past positions.
“It’s been my good fortune not to have encountered that here. It’s been a collaborative relationship, not always agreement, but respectful disagreement, solving problems rather than looking for them.”
“To the extent that I’ve had any success as superintendent, the people I’ve worked with are the ones who made that possible,” he said. “I worked here in a remarkable place, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have done so.”
Cameron, 73, a Pittsfield resident, former superintendent of the Central Berkshire Regional School District, and assistant superintendent for personnel and negotiations for the Pittsfield School District, remains on the Pittsfield School Committee and is chairman of the Berkshire County Education Task Force.
New Superintendent Marc J. Gosselin, 43, begins officially July 1, having been selected by the School Committee last January as the top finalist after an extensive search. The veteran eastern Pennsylvania educator and administrator’s starting salary is $160,000 under a four-year contract. He has been taking part recently in remote meetings with Lenox school administrators.
“I think you’ve selected someone who’s very bright, who has excellent judgment and considerable expertise in public education,” Cameron told the School Committee. “I believe the district will be in exceptionally good hands.”