Superintendent Chalk Talk for the 2019-2020 School Year

Dear Members of the Hatfield Community:

As we prepare to begin  another school year, I want to take a moment to welcome back all our returning students and staff and to welcome those new to the  Hatfield Public Schools.

This upcoming year will offer both opportunities and challenges as the district transitions to new educational leadership at both schools.

Smith Academy will be welcoming a new Principal, Christopher Buckland to replace Dr. Berrios, who left for Connecticut after seven years as principal. Mr. Buckland most recently served as the Director of Personalized Learning at the High School of Commerce in Springfield. Prior to working in Springfield,  Mr. Buckland served in  various administrative and teaching roles throughout the world including:   Head of Teaching and Learning at the Saint Andrew’s Scots School in Buenos Aires; The Academic and Pastoral Coordinator at the Windhoek International School in Namibia; a teacher of English at the International School of Milan, and as the Head of Communications Studies at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, England. 

Mr. Buckland’s background and experiences will bring innovative and creative ideas to Smith Academy. He has a strong knowledge base in project-based learning approaches, personalized learning, restorative practices and with building connections with the community and higher education.

The Hatfield Elementary School will also be welcoming a  new interim principal for the 2019-2020 school year.  Mrs. Chapin will be moving on to the Westfield Public Schools after serving twelve years as Principal of the Elementary School. Mrs. Chapin leaves a rich legacy of unselfish commitment and accomplishment while in Hatfield and will be missed by the community.

Taking over for Mrs. Chapin, as Interim Principal  will be Mr. Thomas Luce.  Mr. Luce has twenty-seven years experience as an elementary school principal. He retired in 2014 after serving as principal in Easthampton since 2004.  Most recently, in 2018, he served as an interim principal at the New Hingham Regional Elementary School .

The District will also be adding a grant-funded School Resource Officer this year.  Hatfield Police Officer, Monica Czerwinski, will be working one-day-a-week at both schools and a B.C.B.A, Gail Palechka, at the elementary school. Dawn Sacks will take over as the Guidance Counselor this year at Smith Academy and Celeste Palladino will be take over as adjustment counselor at the elementary school. 

The District will be implementing a new three-year District Improvement Plan this year. The plan outlines five general goals for the District. Goal areas include: 

1) Sustainability and Capacity; 2) Academic Achievement; 3) Wellness and Social-Emotional Learning, 4) Staff Development, and 5) Facilities. 

The goals were drafted by the District Learning Team comprising of School Committee members, Faculty, and Administration. Community members were also surveyed as part of the data gathering process.  In June, the School Committee approved the three-year plan. The District Improvement Plan (DIP) is used to identify budgeting priorities and the allocation of district resources. The DIP also serves aids in the application for federal and state grants. In addition, the DIP provides guidance for the SA and HES School Councils to assist them when the development of the School Improvement Plans.

Another change this year will involve the bus routes and the starting and dismissal times. The three bus routes have been combined to form two bus routes for the 2019-2020 school year. It is anticipated that the bus times may increase by about 10 minutes each way.  The change in bus routes will help the district save over $150,000 over the next three years. This is more money that can be used directly in the classrooms. Some of the existing bus stops may be combined and others eliminated to ensure the buses run on a timely schedule.

Bus stops for the 2019-2020 school year will be posted on the school website  available in the school offices.

At the elementary school, the new start time for students will be 8:10 am and the new dismissal time will be 2:40 pm.

On Wednesday, September 25, the Hatfield Public Schools in conjunction with HEADS Up will be hosting a community screening of the documentary “ Angst”. Angst  is a film  that tells the story of kids and teens who discuss their anxiety and its impact on their lives and relationship, as well as, how they found solutions and hope.

The goal of the event is to discuss how to begin breaking the stigma of anxiety, to empower parents and guardians to recognize the warning signs, for teens to seek help they need and for teachers to understand how to support their students.

After the documentary, there will be a public forum with mental health professionals to discuss the film, answer questions, and provide help, resources, and tools to help address anxiety. 

The film is free and open to the public. Students 10 years of age and older, parents, guardians, and community members are invited to attend. The film will start at 6 pm on September 25th with the public forum starting at 7 pm. To arrange childcare, please call Riley at 247-5641 by 2 pm on September 20th.

The grant-funded mental health “check in-check out” program begun last year at the elementary school will also be expanded this year to include more students and additional training for staff.

The Hatfield Public Schools will be continuing with its ongoing campaign to encourage parents and guardians to wait until 8th grade to purchase their child a smart phone.  The District will be reaching out to parents, guardians, and students through the use of Facebook and other social mediums to help assist in this effort. 

This year, work will begin on the installation of solar panels at Smith Academy. The project, approved last school year, is expected to save the taxpayers a substantial amount of money over the next twenty years, as well as, help the environment. Smith Academy will also be exploring ways to tie in the work being done to the curriculum.

This fall will also mark the completion of the new Smith Academy field hockey field. This project, begun last year is being funding in large part by the Hatfield Community Preservation Committee. A date for the dedication of the new field hockey field will be announced in September.

This year, both schools will also be undergoing upgrades to the safety and security  systems. Improvements will be made to the Smith Academy fire control systems, the classroom locks and the intercom systems.  Blue alert lights are also planned to be installed in front of both schools. This work is being funded from a capital appropriation approved at the annual town meeting and a Safe Schools and Communities Grant acquired by the School Department from the State.

In closing, I wish all the new and returning students and staff a happy and successful year and I thank the Hatfield School Community for their continued support.




John F. Robert   

Below are new the names of  new faculty and staff:  


Christopher Buckland,  Principal, Smith Academy

Thomas Luce, Interim-Principal, HES

Gail Palechka, B.C.B.A., HES

Lynn Podosek-Bosman, Fourth Grade Teacher, HES

Edward Prajzner, Fifth Grade Teacher, HES

Jeffrey Bulissa, Math Teacher, SA

Camden Brown, Health/P.E. Teacher, SA

Meghan Ashman, Long-Term Sub Middle School Special Education, SA

Susan Liebenow, Paraprofessional, HES

Chailee Guzman, Paraprofessional/ Van Driver, HES

Andrew Rup, Paraprofessional, SA

Amelia McGrath,  Paraprofessional, SA

Karen Casey-Agustin, Paraprofessional, SA

Betty Krasin, Kitchen Staff, HES

Rachel Ames,  Paraprofessional, HES

Patricia Fenton,  Kitchen Staff, SA

Patricia Genovese, Van Driver

Monica Czerwinski, School Resource Officer

Dawn Sacks, Guidance Counselor

Celeste Palladino,  Adjustment Counselor, HES 


Welcome to The Hatfield Public Schools!