Milton Elementary School K-2 principal Mary Fitzgerald resigned her post last week after two years on the job, superintendent Amy Rex confirmed.
She will remain in the district in a curriculum position until her contract ends on June 30, 2019. Newly hired assistant principal Casey Provost will take the reins as interim principal until then, Rex said.
“[Mary] has a really good heart and a really strong work ethic,” Rex said. “It’s unfortunate that Mary’s left in this capacity.”
The district received Fitzgerald’s resignation letter on December 12. Her decision was voluntary, Rex said, and her one-sentence letter didn’t cite a reason for her departure. Fitzgerald did not reply to an interview request by the Milton Independent’s press deadline Tuesday.
According to Rex, Fitzgerald wanted to finish her contracted time with MTSD. “She didn’t feel like, for whatever reasons, she was able to do that in the principal role,” she added.
In her new position, Fitzgerald will work under Lynne Manley to help rewrite and align the math curriculum to suit current needs. Likewise, she will aid in uploading content onto the district’s soon-to-be updated website, Rex said.
“She’ll be able to do work that might have taken us a couple years to do,” she said. “There is a benefit there.”
The district will hire a dean of students to support Provost and grades 3-5 principal Bridget Gagne in lieu of replacing an assistant principal. Deans aren’t required to have an administrative license, Rex said, which may help the district’s employment search during the midway point of the academic year.
“It would have been really really hard to find somebody at this time of the year with an administrative license, especially as an interim,” she said. “We’ll certainly go with the most qualified person that we can find.”
MTSD has had a revolving door in administration in recent years, bidding farewell to over 12 administrators over the past decade. And during the 2017-18 school year alone, a quarter of the middle school’s faculty were new hires.
High turnover is not unique to Milton, Rex said.
“For the last decade … the principal job just keeps getting added to,” said Rex, a former principal at Harwood Union. “Unless you’re a superhuman being, it’s really very difficult.”
Increasingly complex student needs, the job’s “massiveness” and stakeholders’ varied opinions of what the position should entail may contribute to turnover, Rex said. For example, some think principals should focus on learning while others prioritize attendance at school events.
“If you’re not doing all of those things really well then people are critical; the criticism wears on people,” she said. “As a public figure, if your community is critical of you, why would you want to stay?”
Though Fitzgerald didn’t provide a public reason for her resignation, Rex believes the principal may feel she hasn’t accomplished everything she wanted.
“I’ve been in those situations before, as a principal,” Rex added. “Sometimes you feel like you’re always pushing that rock up the hill.”
Rex is confident that despite only starting the job six months ago, Provost is capable to fill Fitzgerald’s role. She said her own career trajectory was expedited, as she assumed principalship after only a year as assistant principal and early on in her administrative career.
“[A superintendent] really needs to support principals and help grow them,” she said.