Swampscott principal blames building for exit

Pictured is Hadley Elementary School Principal Stacy Phelan.


SWAMPSCOTT – Hadley Elementary School Principal Stacy Phelan is citing the poor condition of the building as one of her main reasons for leaving for the same position at Lowell Elementary School in Watertown.

Phelan, 49, has been principal of Hadley School for three years. She will be leaving for her new job in July. During her tenure with Hadley, she said the maintenance of the building has taken up the majority of her management time.

“My leaving Swampscott is due to the fact that the building has been a very difficult building to manage due to the maintenance of the building,” Phelan said. “I always look forward to the next chapter, but it’s bittersweet because I feel like there could have been a little bit more work here before moving on, but I did feel overwhelmed by the building management.”

School officials in Swampscott are actively trying to replace Hadley School, the oldest school building in town. Superintendent Pamela Angelakis recently submitted two statements of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Hadley School was the primary submission, with the intent for replacement and a new building. The statemsent for the middle school was intended for renovation, school officials said.

Angelakis could not be reached for comment.

Phelan said she wants to focus on teaching and learning, and what she likes most about being a principal is being in the classroom. “Although that is very much what we want here in Swampscott, the building itself has taken me away from a lot of that work,” she said.

Phelan said she is out of her expertise in managing the infrastructure of the building. This year, she said she’s been managing a boiler replacement project and has been focused on the structure and quality of the building, rather than the education of the students.

She learned on March 31 that she would become principal of Lowell Elementary. Despite the building’s challenges, she said Swampscott has been a wonderful, rich community to work in.

“I was looking for a larger school that has more elementary grades offered in it and (was) looking for a change based on just curriculum initiatives,” Phelan said.

John Brackett, interim superintendent of Watertown Public Schools, said Phelan will be replacing Phil Oates, the interim principal of Lowell Elementary School. He said the search process started in February, and yielded about 50 applicants. Two rounds of interviews were held, first with eight candidates and then with three finalists.

“We were just very impressed with her experience both in Swampscott and her experience with various schools she served in Lynn,” Brackett said. “She brought a lot of experience and knowledge about working in different kinds of schools. We were very impressed with her leadership abilities. We found her to be extremely knowledgeable around curriculum, instruction and assessment. What we’re really looking forward to is not only her high energy and her wonderful interpersonal skills, but we’re looking forward to her instructional leadership to help Lowell School continue to move forward.

“She just rose to the top,” he continued. “From day one, we just knew that this was going to be a great match for Lowell School.”

Brackett said the school has gone through some leadership transition, and there have been four principals in five years. He said the district was looking for her to come in and bring some stability to the position, as well as really focusing on the students and continuing a strong culture of working with the parents.

Phelan lives in Lynn with her husband, Tim. They have two children, a junior and senior in college. Before her time at Hadley, she spent three years as vice principal of Connery Elementary School in Lynn. She was at the school for five years in total. Before her time at Connery, she taught in various elementary schools in Lynn. Her teaching career started in 2001.

Phelan received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Salem State University.

Gayla Cawley can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

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