Plymouth River School principal steps into assistant principal role; interim principal selected

Front entrance of PRS, 2019

August 12, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer

Plymouth River School Principal Melissa Smith announced in an email to the PRS community on Thursday (Aug. 12) that she has accepted the position of assistant principal effective Aug. 16.

At the same time, Gregory Lamothe -- who has served in a number of different roles as an educator in various communities -- has been named interim principal for the upcoming school year.

As background, former Assistant Principal  Charleen Fabrizio recently accepted another administrative position with Hingham Public Schools as elementary administrator of special education.

"On June 23,  Ms. Fabrizio formally accepted the position, thereby vacating the assistant principal position at PRS," Asst. Supt. Jamie LaBillois stated in an open letter to the PRS community today (Aug. 12).  On June 30, the district posted the position and began a formal search for a new administrator.

A total of 25 applications for the position were received and reviewed by an interview team consisting of administration (Lori Jacobs, South Elementary School Assistant Principal); school committee (Kerry Ni, School Committee Chair); parents (Leslie Wittmann and Lori Oliwa);  and Plymouth River Elementary School faculty and staff (Susan Willison, Nancy Bucey, Tina Wehner, A.C. Decker, Meaghan Gaven, and Kyran Romanowski).

Of the 11 candidates interviewed, there were two finalists -- including Smith, who was chosen to serve in the assistant principal role.

Because the beginning of the new school year is just around the corner, the other finalist -- Lamothe -- was chosen to serve as PRS's interim principal for the coming school year.

"There was not enough time to run a separate interim principal search.  During deliberation discussions with the current screening team, it became clear that both of the finalists for the assistant principal position were effective leaders and would be a collaborative, supportive, and effective team," La Billois stated.

Smith explained her reasons for accepting this new position. "After much reflection on my skill set and wanting to continue my loyalty to our excellent school, it was clear to me that this transition is a perfect opportunity for me personally and for the school's future success," she said in the email.

Smith confirmed her continuing commitment to PRS staff, students, and families. "I've had the honor and privilege of leading Plymouth River Elementary School for the past four years," she said.  "I have enjoyed all of the wonderful moments we have had together -- introducing new initiatives, keeping old traditions, and most of all, the support from all of you. I am excited to assume this new role."

Lamothe, who began his career in 2006 as a history and mathematics teacher with Boston Public Schools, has served as the Coordinator of Special Education at the Paul A. Dever Elementary School in Boston Public Schools since 2018. He is also an adjunct professor of education at UMass Boston and teaches a graduate course on behavior and classroom management.

He formerly served as assistant principal of the Susan B. Anthony Middle School in Revere.

Lamothe holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Worcester State College, a Master of Education Degree in Curriculum Design and Instruction from Northeastern University, a Master of Education Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and a Certificate in Autism from Lesley University.

He also holds current certification from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a Principal/Assistant Principal (PK-6; 5-8; 9-12) and Administrator of Special Education (All Levels) as well as teaching licenses in History (5-8; 8-12), Mathematics (5-8), and Moderate Disabilities (PK-8; 9-12).

"More important than the above professional experience and training are the personal and professional qualities that Mr. Lamothe brings to the position," LaBillois said.  "It is quite apparent that Mr. Lamothe will be the perfect fit to lead Plymouth River Elementary for the 2021-2022 academic year. He is passionate about students, their academic and social-emotional access to resources and supports, and the overall culture of the school and is committed to maintaining and building upon the strength of the existing school community of staff, students, and parents."

LaBillois also expects that Lamothe will be able to provide a strong sense of consistency and continuity to the PRS community.  "He is poised for success with the talent and experience of the new Assistant Principal, Ms. Smith," LaBillois said.  "Mr. Lamothe and Ms. Smith, coupled with the dedicated and talented faculty and staff, wonderful students, and supportive parents that already exist at PRS make for an exciting combination in the year ahead."

Lamothe is available via email at starting Aug. 16 and will reach out to PRS families to announce opportunities to meet him in person at the school before the start of the new school year.

In the fall, LaBillois will visit PRS to meet with faculty, students, and community members to explain the process for a full principal search.

" I would like to thank everyone who assisted us with the search process [so far]," he said.  Their input, wise counsel, and commitment to Plymouth River School are much valued, respected, and needed."

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