The Recorder – Acting Pioneer superintendent chosen for permanent role

NORTHFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Regional School District School Board voted on Tuesday to offer the permanent superintendent position to current acting superintendent Patricia Kinsella after a search process that selected three finalists for the position.

Committee members recognized that Kinsella had the benefit of spending several months in the district after being hired for the acting position in August 2021, and a majority of members reached consensus that the search process brought to light her leadership traits.

“She’s now at the point where she’s going to take the ball and start running,” said school board member Stephanie Winslow. “I think she’s doing a great job as a temp, when all we were looking for in August was someone to steer the ship.”

“I think we’ve really learned who she is,” added committee member Michele Giarusso. “She has presented herself in different ways and I appreciate that she still wants to be superintendent for our district.”

Kinsella said she was “thrilled” to be offered the position and agreed with the school board that the search process was mutually beneficial.

“Anytime there’s an opportunity to talk about their dreams and concerns,” Kinsella said over the phone, “it always makes a director better informed and better able to do their job.”

With contract negotiations set to begin as soon as both parties are ready, Kinsella said she looks forward to working on the district’s long-term planning.

Beginning to “facilitate conversations around long-term planning (and) long-term vision,” were some of the goals highlighted by Kinsella. “What neighborhood do we imagine in the next 5 to 10 years?”

Kinsella was one of three finalists for the job, which included current Palmer Public Schools Superintendent Patricia Gardner and Athol-Royalston Regional School District Director of Intervention and Acceleration Cynthia Kennedy. Each contestant was asked 10 questions by the school committee, with topics ranging from special education, helping children recover from the stress of the pandemic, and commitment to students in the district.

Kinsella used portions of her interview to reflect on her time with the district and to lay out her vision for the future. She noted that this would involve taking a look at everyone’s “shared values” and how schools can build on these values ​​to inspire students and staff.

“We can’t ask for perfection, but we can ask for better,” Kinsella said. “My hypothesis is that when we explore what might make school better for some kids, I bet it might make school better for some adults.”

Addressing the pandemic, Kinsella said the district could provide additional services for struggling students and families, and continued leadership could provide a “steady hand at the helm.”

“Some of our children are not well, some of our employees are not well. It’s been exhausting for everyone,” Kinsella said. “We can’t pretend that everything is fine. We need to offer more support to our families.

She said her extensive experience — both as a bilingual teacher and as an assistant superintendent in other districts — can help Pioneer ensure that all students are welcome while delivering quality results. valuable learning.

“I think I could be the steady hand at the helm, which also invites our community to be imaginative that takes us outside the box,” Kinsella said. “I would welcome this trip; I would like to take this journey with you.

The school committee chose to take Kinsella on this trip as they voted 10 to 1 to offer him the position, with one abstention.

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.

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