Three finalists in running for Amherst Regional Middle School principal

Amherst Regional Middle School Building

Amherst Regional Middle School Building

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 03-24-2024 2:17 PM

AMHERST — Amherst Regional Middle School’s dean of students and administrators at middle schools in New Bedford and Wrentham are finalists to become principal at the middle school, a position that has been filled on an interim basis this school year by the high school principal and two assistant principals.

The school district announced last week to families and staff that the Middle School Principal Interview Committee selected as finalists Susan Gilson, assistant superintendent and middle school principal in the King Philip Regional School District in Wrentham, Sean McNiff, principal at Normandin Middle School in New Bedford, and Lamikco Magee, the dean of students at the middle school, and the lone internal candidate.

Each will have full-day visits, including meet and greets with staff, in-person interviews with Interim Superintendent Douglas Slaughter and hybrid interviews with parents and guardians from the middle school library, both in the afternoon and evening. The visits started Tuesday with Magee, followed on Wednesday by McNiff and Thursday by Gilson.

The finalists are vying to succeed Diego Sharon, who stepped down as middle school principal last spring after three years at the helm. Sharon is now a dean at the high school. Talib Sadiq, the high school principal, has been overseeing the middle school, assisted by interim assistant principals Doreen Reid and Richard Ferro.

Magee is a seven-year member of the Amherst faculty, where she has worked as a special education teacher, special education department head and in the role of teacher on special assignment. An educator for 20 years, Magee is a member of the Belchertown School Committee and a councilor on the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Magee earned a doctor of Jurisprudence from Western New England University School of Law, a master’s in Education in Moderate Disabilities from American International College and a bachelor’s of Business Administration from American Intercontinental University. She is also a U.S. Air Force veteran.

McNiff has been an educator for nearly 25 years, the past 16 in school administration. McNiff led a special education department as it transitioned to a more inclusive program for all students.

McNiff earned a bachelor’s of Art in English from Fitchburg State College and a doctor of Jurisprudence from New England School of Law.

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Gilson has held administrator roles in the King Philip Regional School District for the past 20 years, leading a schedule redesign and implementation effort that resulted in program improvements and sustained multiple grades even as there were numerous budget challenges.

Gilson earned a bachelor’s of Science with a major in Engineering and Music Education from the University of Hartford and a master’s of Arts in Education — Curriculum and Instruction and a doctor of Philosophy in Cognition and Instruction, both from the University of Connecticut.

The announcement of the finalists comes almost a year after a search last March was unable to identify a new middle school principal, with both finalists backing out, including one candidate who had completed a public interview and was invited for a site visit.