FLORIDA, Mass. New Principal Martin McEvoy is happy to be part of the Abbott Memorial School and Florida community.
"It is a great place, and I am really happy to be here," McEvoy said. "... I am excited to be part of this community, and I hope to be here for a long time."
McEvoy, who started July 1, replaced longtime Principal Heidi Dugal, who retired at the end of the school year.
McEvoy was most recently superintendent in Hatfield for a year and had been principal of Lanesborough Elementary School and of Herberg Middle School in Pittsfield, and vice principal at Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire.
McEvoy said he was drawn to Abbott Memorial because he wanted to get back to his roots.
"I really wanted to get back in a setting where I could be part of the fabric of a school and in the building, working with the teachers and the kids," he said. "I think that is something my career was starting to move away from, and I am glad I was able to remind myself why I got into education and what is important to me."
McEvoy said Abbott Memorial was the perfect size school — it serves about 80 students in Grades K-8 and it would allow him to interact with every student and every teacher. He said he is happy that the tight-knit community has accepted him.
"It is a small family atmosphere, and I feel like that they are accepting me into the family," he said.
School started with a half-day last Wednesday and McEvoy said it was good to see kids back in the building.
"What was really striking was how happy the kids seemed to be and how happy the teachers were," McEvoy said. "It was a really great atmosphere and really great environment. The students are happy to be back."
He said the day was made even more special with the annual first day of school ice cream truck visit sponsored by the PTG.
"That put a smile on their faces," he said.
McEvoy said he is impressed by the school and doesn't see much he would change. He said any improvements he would make would be done holistically by working with teachers and other stakeholders.
"I think things are running on all cylinders and, of course, there are always places where you can look at things and see how you can make them even better," he said. "But I am not going to come in and make sweeping changes. I like to look, listen, and learn, and things that are working we will leave alone. Things that we can make better, I want to work collaboratively."
McEvoy also commented on Florida itself and the important space the school fills in the community.
"I really appreciate how much this town really cares about the school. It is very important to them, and they are always willing to support it," he said. "They always want to know how they can help, and I want to be able to do the same."
He said he wants to continue the community outreach Dugal supported throughout her tenure. He added he wanted the school to continue to be the hub of the town and community.
"I want to be helpful in any way we can and be a value to the town even if you do not have kids in the school," he said.
McEvoy acknowledged the challenges COVID-19 is sure to impose on this school year but noted last year Abbott Memorial School kept in-person learning ticking along, except for a five-day spell.
"They were open every possible day they could be. So I am looking forward to working with a staff with that kind of commitment," he said. "To the community who entrust us with their children know that safety is first, but we know the importance of in-person schooling."