After several months of searching and deliberations by school officials and a special committee, Eric Buckley has been chosen as the new principal of Peabody's Veterans Memorial High School, where he is currently assistant principal.
Buckley, who made it to the final leg with John Dillon, assistant principal for education services at Minuteman Regional High School and Layne Millington, principal at Swampscott High School, officially steps into his new role on July 1.
“We welcome Mr. Buckley as principal of the Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, and offer our full support when he begins his duties,” said Peabody’s Superintendent Joe Mastrocola, in a recent announcement. “Further, his experiences in teaching and administration in public education, coupled with his student centered approach, as well as his experience with the City of Peabody, all tailor his candidacy to our needs.”
Buckley will be taking over for principal Ed Sapienza, who is retiring.
Buckley has been involved in the Peabody district for over two decades, spending most of his career teaching at the the high school, the Higgins Middle School and holding administrative roles in the system as well.
“I’ve been here for over 20 years in all different capacities, including subbing, filling in for guidance, so it’s been kind of a natural progression,” Buckley said. “It’s a comprehensive high school and we have a lot of things to offer our students here. It’ll be exciting as of July 1 just like it’s exciting today.”
Mayor Edward Bettencourt said he was thrilled with the committee’s decision to pick Buckley as the next principal.
“I have a great amount of respect for Mr. Buckley,” Bettencourt said. “He’s made a deep commitment to the city and Peabody high school and I think he’s the right person for the job.”
Bettencourt and Buckley go way back. In fact, Buckley taught Bettencourt’s U.S. History and Contemporary Affairs class his senior year of high school. The mayor recalled it was Buckley’s first year teaching.
“He just struck me as a person that cares deeply about his students and wants to see them succeed,” Bettencourt said.
The mayor added that the city will look to Buckley to tackle some challenges that the school has encountered, including those concerning the school’s budget, but the newly selected principal is “the right man for the job.”
A search committee, under the leadership of the schools’ Human Resource Director, Karen Budrow, reviewed applications and interviewed various candidates for the position. Mastrocola then requested that the committee send the finalists his way for a last round of interviews.
“Under the requirements of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act, principals, at any level, are hired directly by the superintendent,” Mastrocola said in a recent announcement. “In every city and town in Massachusetts, the high school is the flagship school around which the entire community places its support and expectations for safe and organized services for students with high expectations for learning. The position of principal is the key to lead this effort.”
Although Buckley is looking forward to taking on the role of principal, he said it’s a bittersweet experience.
“You get a little bit sentimental over the fact that my mentors are quickly dwindling away,” Buckley said. “They’ve retired and moved on to other parts of their lives. It wasn’t too long ago that I was mentored by my people, and I was the lower guy in the building. It’s a nice career transition I guess.”