Dr. Karen Spaulding is going back to middle school. After two years as Principal of , Spaulding will take the helm at .
The middle school level is where she spent most of her career and Pierce is the first school she worked at in Milton. The new principal served as an assistant from 2008 to 2010 before she accepted the principalship at Cunningham.
Spaulding, who officially started on July 1, is replacing James Jette at Pierce Middle School. Jette accepted the principal position at Milton High School.
While Spaulding is familiar with the school and the leadership initiatives of the district, she said Jette has been instrumental in the transition thus far.
“James Jette is both an incredible leader and an incredible colleague,” Spaulding said of the outgoing Principal.
Spaulding now plans to continue on the positive track set by Jette, while developing a community and encouraging more teacher leadership.
Spaulding said her proudest accomplishment at Cunningham was creating a true community. The teachers united around professional development, while the relationships between the school and students and parents was strengthened by community service, namely food drives and Cunningham’s massively successful Cradles to Crayon pajama drive which earned the school a visit from Boston Bruins defensemen .
Now in a new role, Spaulding said it’s critical to create a similar feeling at the Pierce. The new principal said this comes in large initiatives like the PJ drive and in smaller gestures like saying hello to students as they pass in the hallways.
“I want people to feel welcome; to feel good,” Spaulding said.
One of the essential skills of middle school educators is knowing the age group, according to Spaulding. While elementary students develop at roughly the same pace, middle school children are changing physically, emotionally and socially at varying rates.
“They are longing for someone to listen and to see them,” Spaulding said of middle school students. “It’s magic when you get that.”
Spaulding plans to focus on cultivating even more leadership from the Pierce teachers she said know middle school students so well.
Since she left Piece in 2010, the leadership team still has some familiar faces, specifically in Assistant Principal Anna McReynolds. Amy Gale is also still at PMS, but in new position, the shared post of Assistant Principal and Humanities Curriculum Coordinator.
The other half Assistant Principal at Pierce Middle School is Life LeGeros, who is new to the district. LeGeros will split his time with the Math Curriculum Coordinator duties.
Spaulding is now entering her fourth principal job, a career path that seemed unlikely when she was serving as a science teacher in Hudson, N.H. and Cambridge. Spaulding admits she never expected to be a principal, as she perceived the position to be too far removed from the teaching and learning she loved.
As she continued her education, earning her master's degree in Middle School Science Education from Simmons College in Boston and her doctoral degree from UMass/Boston's Leadership in Urban Schools' Doctoral Program, Spaulding began to see the job as instructional leadership.
Before coming to Pierce, Spaulding served as acting Principal of Asa P. Morse Elementary School in Cambridge.
As Spaulding settles into her new office in a familiar place, she is already awaiting the arrival of the first buses this fall.
“I am beyond excited to be back in middle school,” said Spaulding.