|By Chris Maza|
HAMPDEN The Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District recently announced Peter Dufresne as the next principal at Thornton W. Burgess Middle School.
The hiring of Dufresne completes an administrative shakeup at the middle school level. He will take the place of Noel Pixley, who was chosen to succeed Daniel Roy as the head of Wilbraham Middle School. Roy is leaving the school at the end of the year for "personal and professional reasons," according to a Jan. 23 letter to parents.
Dufresne was officially presented to the School Committee on June 11.
"We had an excellent applicant pool with many experienced, qualified administrators, but Mr. Dufresne rose to the top after the interviews and site visits," Superintendent M. Martin O'Shea said. "His broad experience in school administration, his understanding of the educational landscape, and his proven ability to lead a collaborative, spirited school were determining factors in the final decision."
Dufresne comes to the district from Granby Junior/Senior High School, where he served as principal for three years. Prior to Granby, he was principal of West Springfield High School for four years. He got his start in education in Granby, teaching economics and history in at the junior/senior high school from 1997 to 2002.
He has a master's degree in education, with a concentration in educational administration, from the University of Massachusetts and a bachelor's degree in history from Western New England University.
A Wilbraham resident for the past 14 years, Dufresne said it has long been a goal of his to work in the district.
"I live in [the] district and my kids go to school in this district," he said. "It's always been a hope of mine to be able to work with the people here and give back to the communities here."
Dufresne said the culture that has been cultivated by Pixley at Thornton W. Burgess was a major factor in what drew him to the position.
"I know the current principal and Thornton Burgess has a reputation of a strong school culture," he said. "[Pixley] really got that school moving in the right direction."
Dufresne said one thing he hoped to bring with him was a new way to look at student achievement through the use of what he called a "data team."
He also acknowledged the challenges facing the school because of the district-wide budget squeeze and said he was already getting familiar with the situation.
"I've been in contact with Noel [Pixley] and the assistant principal to get a better idea of what's happening," he said. "We're losing some great folks. There's a good transition plan in place, but it's hard to lose good people."
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