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Amy Watkins named new principal at Weston Middle School

Weston has a new school principal.

This week, the school board announced it was appointing Amy Watkins as the new Weston Middle School principal. Ms. Watkins will replace Kenneth Craw, who begins his new position in Weston as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction July 1.

“I am excited to welcome Amy to our Weston team, and I am confident that under her leadership, Weston Middle School will continue to flourish for many years to come,” said Colleen Palmer, superintendent of Weston schools.

Lewis Brey, the school district’s director of human resources, said Ms. Watkins will earn $157,862 as the Weston Middle School principal.

Mr. Brey said she was chosen from a large pool of applicants from across the Northeast.

She is currently the principal at Somers Middle School in Somers, N.Y., where, according to Raymond Blanch, superintendent of Somers Central School District, she earns $160,290. She is also an adjunct graduate school professor at Manhattanville College.

Prior to her position in Somers, she was the assistant principal and then principal at Ardsley Middle School in Ardsley, N.Y. Ms. Watkins was also a sixth grade house principal in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Before becoming a school administrator, Ms. Watkins was a technology teacher in the Arlington Central School District in Dutchess County, N.Y.

“Ms. Watkins also brings a great deal of knowledge in curriculum and instruction, and has tremendous experience maximizing educational technology tools to enhance the instructional experience for middle school students,” Mr. Brey said in a press release issued on behalf of the Weston school district.

“I am sure Ms. Watkins will do an outstanding job for Weston Middle School and we wish her the best,” said Dr. Blanch of Somers.

“The board is very happy to have Amy Watkins join our team and our district,” said Ellen Uzenoff, vice chairman of the Weston school board. “She is an outstanding candidate with a substantial middle school background. Her focus is on the total student, with both the emotional and educational emphasis. She is a very well spoken advocate for the middle school student.”

Tri-State member

Ms. Watkins is no stranger to Weston. She has visited the district as part of the Tri-State Consortium, which assesses and evaluates member school districts in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

Ms. Watkins is also a member of Tri-State’s Middle Level Leadership Principal’s Group on Understanding 21st Century Skills.

Ms. Watkins has a master’s degree in special education from Western Connecticut State University, an Administrative Certificate from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from SUNY Plattsburgh.

Ms. Watkins is a doctoral candidate at Manhattanville College, where she is working on a dissertation on the use of online media to deliver professional development for teachers.

“Ms. Watkins’ depth of expertise and experience provide a solid foundation of educational leadership to further the mission of the Weston Middle School as it prepares its students for the 21st Century,” Mr. Brey said.

Search process

Mr. Brey said the search process included “advertis[ing] broadly” for Dr. Craw’s replacement at the middle school until June 1, and then conducting initial screenings of all applicants.

Eight candidates were then interviewed by the Middle School Principal Search Committee, which included: Superintendent Colleen Palmer; Mr. Brey; school board members Dana Levin and Sonya Stack; Doreen O’Leary, assistant principal at the Hurlbutt until June 30 and now assistant principal at the intermediate school; Pattie Falber, intermediate school principal; two curriculum instructional leaders, a teacher, and a parent.

The Search Committee identified four semifinalists who were then interviewed by the Weston Leadership Council, which includes all district and building administrators.

Of the four candidates interviewed by the Leadership Council, two were then interviewed by the school board, before it voted 5-0 (with Chairman Phil Schaefer out of town and Nina Daniel abstaining) at a special meeting June 26 to hire Ms. Watkins.

Ms. Uzenoff said Ms. Daniel was in full support of Ms. Watkins, but felt obligated to abstain since she had to miss an earlier interview session.

Ms. Uzenoff said Ms. Watkins will begin her new post in Weston right away.

“We are thrilled that she will be in the district starting this week, and will have an opportunity over the summer break to meet with staff, parents, students and community members on an informal basis, being more than ready to move forward at the beginning of the school year this August,” Ms. Uzenoff said.

Superintendent Palmer said she looks forward to working with Ms. Watkins.

“We are fortunate that Weston’s reputation of educational quality attracts a deep pool of candidates each time we post for key leadership positions. During this past interview process, we again had the privilege of interviewing a cadre of highly qualified individuals,” Dr. Palmer said. “Throughout this rigorous process, the goal was to identify an exemplary educator whose passion for middle school students and expert leadership skills combined to define a compassionate and talented principal. I am pleased that these attributes were found in Amy Watkins, a successful veteran middle school administrator.”

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