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Despite the school only having one year left, Island Avenue Elementary is going to have some changes in its final year. After current Island Principal Doreen O’Leary recently announced she will leave the school after this academic year, the district administration has announced current Polson Middle School Assistant Principal Becky Frost will move down to Island to serve as principal next year.
A “meet the principal” event is scheduled for Thursday, June 14 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Island Avenue Elementary School for parents and students to meet Frost.
Island Avenue is slated to close in June 2019 as a part of the Madison Public Schools’ plan to address declining enrollment across the district. The imminent closure leaves a bit of uncertainty for administrators and teaching staff and prompted the need for O’Leary to move on now, according to the message she sent to Island Avenue families.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share my news,” the message read. “At the end of this month, I will be leaving Madison Public Schools to assume the principal position at Roaring Brook Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York. I am grateful for the five years that I’ve spent at Island Avenue, and I’m so sorry to be leaving. However, with the scheduled closing of our school and the related elimination of my position in June 2019, this move is a necessity for my family. I am confident that Superintendent [of Schools Tom] Scarice will provide Island Avenue School with strong leadership in the coming year, and I know he will reach out to you soon with more information.”
Scarice followed up O’Leary’s message with his own note, thanking her for her service to the district and promising the announcement of a new principal shortly. Within a week, Scarice announced Frost would take the helm of Island in its final year.
Frost has been the assistant principal at Polson since 2012 and is a former 3rd grade teacher, an expert in the Readers/Writers Workshop language arts model, and trained in the responsive classroom model for social and emotional development, according to Scarice.
“Her rapport with students is beyond reproach, and she is held in high regard by the parents she serves,” Scarice said in s statement.
While this coming year will be Island’s final year, Frost said she is looking forward to moving to Island and having the chance to celebrate everything Island has been in its last year.
“Being a part of the district for six years I have been privy to hearing about all of the amazing things down there—the amazing staff that Tom [Scarice] is always speaking so highly of, knowing some families in town because they might have older children at Polson and having the chance to work with them in a different capacity with their younger siblings, and just getting to know them and becoming part of that community,” she said.
Coming from another position in the district, Frost said she won’t have to spend time learning district policy and can hit the ground running when she gets to Island.
“I truly see this, me saying, ‘Yes, I will go lead Island next year,’ as a bit of leadership service opportunity,” she said. “That staff deserves someone to come in, get to know them, and really take care of them and be their advocate and be there to be that strong communicator, so when the transition to the other two elementary schools happens, they feel like they have someone who is representing them very well and involves them as much as possible through the process.”
As for who will fill Frost’s roll at Polson, Scarice said a decision has not been made yet, but he hopes to have more information to share with the community soon. Knowing that the district will drop an administrator in 2019, he said it’s important to look at all the moving parts.
“Knowing that we will ultimately be reducing an administrator, that has been the discussion since we talked about closing a school, and so we have to be very careful about not looking at external candidates and possibly laying them off,” he said. “So in the past we have had internal openings for a variety of different positions, or one-year interim positions.”
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