Recorder: "Academy of Learning welcomes new principal"

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Academy of Learning welcomes new principal

GREENFIELD — After a semester without a principal, The Academy of Early Learning has finally filled the job.

Longtime educator Tom King came out of a two-year retirement to become principal of the Greenfield public preschool. The position is part-time, Monday through Wednesday.

King started teaching right out of college, he said in an interview this week. He worked as a elementary school teacher for 26 years and an elementary school principal for 15 years, he said. King was principal of Swift River School in New Salem for two years before moving to Northfield Elementary, where he stayed for 13 years. Swift River and Northfield elementary schools both have preschools.

As principal, King wore “many hats,” he said.

“The best thing is problem-solving. I think that’s what I enjoy the most,” King said. “Also, setting a vision — supporting faculty, and setting up the best possible education scenario for students.”

After retiring from Northfield, King said he was seeking part-time education-related work. The early learning job interested King for several reasons, he said.

Among them is that he recently became a grandfather and has a new-found interest in early learning — and can look after his six-month-old granddaughter on his days off.

“Having a young granddaughter, I was interested in the development of young children,” King said. “And so, from there, the opportunity to work at AEL came up, and it really interested me.”

The preschool charges each student tuition — an average of $32 a day — because preschool is not mandated in Massachusetts, King said. The school does not offer buses for students. The school accepts students from Greenfield and surrounding communities in Massachusetts.

The preschool has about 120 students enrolled, King said, which means teachers are able to collaborate and share ideas.

“What I like is the number of staff that are teaching preschool students can support each other,” King said. “Here, there’s about six or seven people to share ideas with, share curriculum, share concerns.”

As principal, King said he plans to encourage more inter-classroom activities at the school.

“Having a public preschool, you have students who are exposed to many different things, to their peers,” King said, “That helps them regulate their emotions, one of the key things for 3- and 4-year-olds.”