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Jake Schutz and Kristen Thompson have been named principals at Mount Greylock Regional School and Williamstown Elementary School, respectively.

Williamstown Elementary, Mount Greylock Principals Named

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Faced with two strong contenders or a single principal position, the Mount Greylock Regional School District hired them both.
 
Superintendent Kimberley Grady on Thursday afternoon announced she has named Jake Schutz to be the principal at Mount Greylock Regional School and Kristen Thompson to the corner office at Williamstown Elementary.
 
Schutz is the current vice principal at the middle-high school. Thompson is an assistant principal at West Mesa High School in Albuquerque, N.M.
 
Three weeks ago, Schutz and Thompson were announced as the two finalists for the Mount Greylock position being vacated after seven years by Mary MacDonald.
 
"Both were equally strong for the Mount Greylock position," Grady said. "But Kristen had the opportunity to be pulled into the finalist rounds at Williamstown Elementary.
 
"She initially hadn't applied for the Williamstown position. Then there were people on both committees with me who said, 'Wouldn't it be great if she could interview for WES?' "
 
Thompson has 11 years of experience in education, beginning her career as a kindergarten teacher. She also has taught middle school, according to an email Grady sent Thursday to the school community.
 
Grady said Thursday afternoon that the University of New Mexico graduate has family in Western Massachusetts and has visited the Berkshires.
 
"Kristen brings specific skills and experience that I believe are critical to supporting WES at this particular time. Importantly, she brings extensive administrative experience across the full spectrum of student experience from K-12," Grady wrote in the announcement. "Specifically, Kristen brings a focus on collaborative learning and co-teaching, extensive knowledge of technology integration and a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. She looks forward to facilitating the transition to a school culture based on restorative practices."
 
Schutz also has experience in the restorative justice and inclusivity initiatives that are prominent at Mount Greylock. The Adams native came to Mount Greylock seven years ago from Hoosac Valley High School, where he taught special education.
 
"Jake demonstrates a commitment to championing a school culture focused on the best interests of students," Grady wrote. "He will work collaboratively with all involved with remote learning to enhance experiences;  this will be essential in the year to come."
 
She mentioned Thursday afternoon that she is excited to maintain continuity in the leadership team at Mount Greylock as the school faces an uncertain September while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and March's closure of the school building.
 
Williamstown Elementary also will benefit from continuity with the continued presence of Assistant Principal Elea Kaatz.
 
Williamstown's outgoing principal, Joelle Brookner, announced this winter that she was leaving the post to become the regional school district's director of curriculum, instruction and technology, a post that has been vacant since MacDonald left the position in 2013.
 
MacDonald, meanwhile, in January announced her intention to get out administration and back into the classroom. Grady said Thursday that MacDonald has applied for a teaching position at Mount Greylock that Schutz will fill after he becomes principal on July 1.
 
Grady was aided in the nationwide principal searches by an 18-member search committee at Mount Greylock that included faculty, staff, parents and guardians and students. A 15-member search committee assisted with the process at the elementary school.

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Williamstown Planning Board to Look at Impact of Land Regulations on Equity

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Planning Board wants to make a concerted effort to assess potential bylaw changes with an eye toward increasing equity.
 
Picking up on a conversation that has dominated discussions in the town's Select Board in recent weeks, the Planning Board last Thursday began talking about how it can advance social justice through its work.
 
"I think this is really essential work for us to be doing," said Peter Beck, who participated in his first meeting since his election to the board in June. "Issues of racial equity are not tangential to planning and land use but deeply wrapped up in it."
 
Chair Stephanie Boyd raised the issue toward the end of a meeting dominated by discussion about bylaw amendments the board plans to bring to next month's annual town meeting.
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