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New principals, curriculum director ready for start of school year

Date: 8/23/2011

Aug. 24, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

AGAWAM — Students and teaches will begin this academic year with new principals at two schools, a new director of curriculum and a new supervisor of special services in the school district’s central office.

A new assistant to the supervisor of special services and a new financial analyst will also join the Agawam Public Schools in the next few weeks.

Agawam Public Schools Interim Superintendent William Sapelli told Reminder Publications that Cheryl Salomao would replace Teri Thomas as principal at Clifford M. Granger School. Thomas resigned to take a position as an assistant superintendent in Orange, Mass.

Salomao, who recently taught education classes and supervised student teachers at Westfield State University (WSU), said she is “excited to be joining the Agawam staff and [I’m] looking forward to the new school year.” Prior to teaching at WSU, she spent 16 years in the Southampton school district.

Sapelli said Agawam Public Schools Literacy Coach Shelley Russell would replace Sandra Howard as principal at the James Clark School. Howard, who was principal at Clark for 17 years, is retiring as of Oct. 5.

Additions to the central office include Allison LeClair, who Sapelli said would be joining Agawam Public Schools as its new curriculum director as of Aug. 22.

Saying, “We’re getting someone who can hit the ground running,” Sapelli explained that LeClair is coming to Agawam from Southwick, where she was also curriculum director.

In her new position, Sapelli said LeClair will be responsible for overseeing the district’s curriculum development, it’s staff’s professional development, the district’s Title 1 needs, the English as a second language program and approximately 115 home schooled children.

LeClair, who spent 16 years in Southwick, the past five as its curriculum director, said she is “looking forward to working both with the administrative team and the teachers in Agawam, and in continuing the initiatives already started in the district. They have a lot of great programs underway.”

Acknowledging that, as with any job, “there will be a lot to learn and take in,” LeClair said she felt “up to the challenge” and ready to help the district take on new initiatives, such as the Common Core curriculum that is being phased in by the Massachusetts Department of Education.

In another central office change, Sapelli said April Rist is being promoted from supervisor of special services to director of special services this year. Sapelli said Rist is replacing John Provost, who resigned as director of special services to become a superintendent in North Brookfield.

He said the School Department would be conducting interviews in the next two weeks to fill the still-vacant central office positions of supervisor of special services and financial analyst.

“We expect to have someone on board [in those positions] very soon,” Sapelli said.

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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