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Charter school appoints acting high school head

Posted by Lisa Crowley  October 28, 2009 09:59 AM

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Beginning in December, the South Shore Charter Public School in Norwell will have an acting principal for the middle and high school level.

Prudence Goodale, the school’s executive director, said current Principal James Connolly announced earlier this month that he would resign as of Nov. 30.

She said teacher Angie Pepin will take over Dec. 1 as interim principal for grades 7-12.

“We are really going to miss Dr. Connolly,” Goodale said. “Dr. Connolly did so much for us in such a short span,” she said.

Goodale said Connolly became principal at the end of February at a time when the school district was faced with steep budget cuts and visits from state officials for extensive recertification assessments that made the first months of his 9-month tenure tense.

If that wasn’t enough, then came the unexpected events, Goodale said.

MCAS scores in the spring were disappointing and some “students made bad choices” at the secondary level and private disciplinary hearings were held.

Goodale said because of privacy regulations she could not say more about the hearings or what the students did to initiate them.

The school also suffered a robbery early in the year when police said thieves must have driven a flatbed truck and forklift onto school grounds and picked up and removed a school truck and other maintenance items.

“It just disappeared, along with a plow, a sander, lawn mower and other equipment,” Goodale said.

She said the truck was found in Marlborough in August after it was used in a robbery of some sort.

Another unexpected episode was the widely publicized arrest by Norwell Police of first year teacher Max Yarmolinsky at the end of the school year, after he allegedly made threats in a note that was reported to officials by a student’s parents.

“He was a young teacher who used bad judgment,” Goodale said.

Goodale said if those events were not difficult enough, Principal Connolly’s family lives about 2 hours away in Florence, Mass., and during the work week he rented a nearby apartment instead of commuting home, but the separation and the inability to sell the house in Florence, prompted Connolly’s resignation.

“So much of a principal’s job happens behind the scenes,” Goodale said. “Not everyone knows just how much Dr. Connolly did for us,” she said.

Goodale said Pepin will take over principal’s duties until at least the spring, when officials will revisit the interim status.

She said the principal’s position was posted internally only because it made sense not to hire someone from outside in the middle of the year.

Pepin, who has taught at the school for six years, and was part of the Teach for America program in New York City, is currently enrolled in Bridgewater State College’s Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies program in educational leadership.

Goodale said when Pepin graduates this summer she will be certified as a secondary principal.
Goodale said in the spring school officials would revisit Pepin’s interim status and possibly appoint her as the school’s permanent head, or open the job to a wider search.

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