23 Chief Roosa Way Dedication

Lee Elementary School Principal Kate Retzel said that Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School affords her the opportunity to work in a prekindergarten-through-fourth grade setting. Lee Elementary is a pre-K-through-sixth grade school.

LEE — Outgoing Principal Kate Retzel says that leaving Lee Elementary School simply is a “challenge in my career.”

Berkshire Hills Regional School District Superintendent Peter Dillon announced Tuesday that Retzel was tapped to succeed Timothy Lee at Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School in Great Barrington. Retzel will begin her new job July 1.

Retzel told The Eagle on Wednesday that Muddy Brook affords her the opportunity to work in a prekindergarten-through-fourth grade setting. Lee Elementary is a pre-K-through-sixth grade school.

“I sought out Muddy Brook for its proximity to my home so I can be fully present for teachers, students and families in the new position like I have been all along in Lee while using my skills in other ways,” Retzel wrote in an email.

“Also, the school is a PK-4 school and I really adore the little humans and value early education of them as key to later success for them and our communities. Early education and care is vastly under appreciated in the education world.”

Reztel is leaving Lee after 11 years as principal. Her education career includes teaching in the Lee and Pittsfield public school systems. She taught middle school students for 13 years at St. Mary’s in Lee and Notre Dame in Pittsfield.

Dillon noted how Reztel’s body of work stood out from the rest of the candidates.

“Kate impressed the search committee with her commitment to fostering strong relationships, valuing social-emotional learning, and investing in curriculum and professional development, and problem solving,” Dillon said in the statement. “The search committee and her recommenders saw [her] as progressive, responsive, caring, and collaborative.”

Dillon said Retzel will have time to work with Lee before he leaves, “to support a thoughtful transition.”

Meanwhile, Lee School Superintendent Michael Richard says the search is underway to find Retzel’s successor. Richard told The Eagle that a community/school-based search committee is being formed to review applications and conduct a first round of interviews.

The panel will forward names of finalists to Richard for second interviews and possible site visits of the candidates’ current work situations. He hopes to name a new principal by June 1.

Richard says Retzel’s selfless approach to education will be sorely missed. He praised how she handled Lee Elementary’s return to part-time, then full-time, in-person teaching this school year as the coronavirus pandemic raged on.

“Kate has worked tirelessly to ensure that all members of the Lee community had access to academic, nutritional and social-emotional resources needed to meet with success; she is a true leader,” Richard said.

Retzel says she will miss working at a school wholeheartedly supported by the town.

“I will miss the heart-centered learning environment my staff and I have created there — the way Lee staff truly cares for their students and each other,” she said. “I will miss the community involvement in the school from Lee [Police Department] and EMS as well as many local businesses.”

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com.

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