PITTSFIELD — Henry Duval will be retiring as principal of Pittsfield High School in September, Superintendent Joseph Curtis announced on Monday.
Duval, who has spent the last 21 years as a vice principal or principal in Berkshire County schools, said after a long career and the coronavirus pandemic it felt like time to move on.
“As I often tell people, I am never not the principal of PHS,” Duval wrote in an email to The Eagle. “Evenings, weekends, school breaks, you are always on call, always addressing some issue. It is easy to become consumed by the job.”
In an email sent to district families on Monday morning, Curtis shared information for those who would like to participate in the interview process for Duval’s replacement.
“He will certainly be missed by many as his leadership has been extraordinary during his time as Vice Principal and Principal of Pittsfield High School,” he wrote.
Duval’s time as principal will end in July, though he’ll remain a staff member with the district through September to help his successor transition into the role.
He said that the faculty and staff at PHS have been “very gracious in their support” in his decision to retire.
Remote learning and Duval’s recent tenure as the district’s interim deputy superintendent have kept him distant from the high school’s underclassmen in recent years. He said that he’s grateful that those students have a close bond with Assistant Principal & Learning Maggie Esko, interim Vice Principal Alison Shepard and interim Dean of Students Lavante Wiggins.
As for the upperclassmen, Duval said he’s happy that he and the school’s seniors will be leaving together. He said that planning graduation and end of year activities for the class will be one of the things that keeps him busy through the end of the year.
Pittsfield Public Schools has served as the starting and closing bookends to Duval’s 27-year career in education.
Duval started his teaching career at Taconic High School in 1995 as a social studies teacher. In 1998, he began a six-year tenure as an adjunct history professor at Berkshire Community College.
He left Pittsfield for a position as an assistant principal in the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District in 2001. Over the next 12 years in Cheshire, Duval worked in a variety of principal roles including eight years as the principal of Hoosac Valley High School.
In 2013, Duval returned to Pittsfield Public Schools, this time as the vice principal of Pittsfield High School.
The district opened the new Taconic building in 2018, shifting Principal Matthew Bishop from PHS to the new THS. Duval filled Bishop’s open role at PHS, first on an interim basis and then as the full-time principal starting in 2019.
As principal at PHS, Duval currently earns an annual salary of $125,000.
He also filled in for Curtis as deputy superintendent in 2020-21 as Curtis served as interim superintendent before being formally hired for the post to replace former Superintendent Jason “Jake” McCandless.
Duval said that the pandemic “may have sped up” his decision to retire. He said he’s been telling well-wishers that he’s retiring from his current role, not everything.
“I am not sure what the future holds, but I hope to find a part-time position doing something interesting, and as I tell people only semi-jokingly, where I am not in charge,” Duval wrote.
Curtis said that though Duval’s final day is months away, “the time is now to begin to form an interview committee for Principal Duval’s successor.”
The district is hoping to form a committee of eight to 12 parents, caregivers and community members who will begin conducting first-round interviews in mid- to late March. The first round interviews are expected to identify a list of two or three finalists to recommend for the post.
The job listing for the principal position says that the district is looking for “an adaptive and innovative educator to close the opportunity gap, empower educators and maximize learning for all students.”
The new principal will be responsible for the district’s second largest school, which is home to more than 600 students.
The district description of an ideal candidate includes several diversity, equity and inclusion skillsets like “instructional experience in an urban/diverse setting,” experience with culturally responsive teaching and experience with the recruitment of diverse staff.
At a minimum school officials are asking that candidates have a master’s degree, at least five years of teaching and administrative experience and a license from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for principal or assistant principal work.