MARLBORO—Some educators say they don’t just teach their students, they learn from them.
Wayne Kermenski, Marlboro Elementary School’s soon-to-be new principal, has already begun.
“At the all-school dance last week, I learned some really good moves” from students, Kermenski said.
Although his position at the school doesn’t officially begin until July 1, Kermenski has spent a few days at the school, getting to know the kids, adults, and their traditions — such as the regular morning all-school dance. “Parents come to it, too,” he noted.
“I’m very impressed with the energy here. It’s friendly, energetic, the teachers are great, and I feel very much welcomed,” Kermenski said. He expressed excitement about “really starting to build those relationships.”
In the months leading up to his first day on the job, Kermenski said he is helping prepare for the school’s summer workshops, and “spending time getting to know the ins and outs of Vermont’s educational system.”
“I’m looking forward to serving the community in this capacity. Really building Marlboro [Elementary] is the next step in my journey,” Kermenski said.
This is Kermenski’s second run as an elementary school principal. He is currently finishing out his final year as principal of the Hawlemont Elementary School, in Charlemont, Mass.
“I love this job!” Kermenski said. “Helping kids with their challenges with each other, writing curriculum, working with staff and parents. I really enjoy it.”
Before becoming a principal, Kermenski was an educator for about nine years. He taught seventh-grade, environmental science, algebra, and foundational mathematics at the high school level.
His favorite type of teaching is experiential and project-based. “I like getting kids outside,” and “making things authentic” for them, he said, because it allows students to follow their interests and take ownership of their education. Kermenski said he sees these same traditions at Marlboro Elementary.
When asked what he expects as challenges with his new job, Kermenski said, “the obvious one is, what will alternative structures [under Act 46] look like? How will it change the school?"
“My challenge is to keep people informed and make the best decision for the children,” he said.
Kermenski deems the state’s Agency of Education Secretary a real asset. “I love Rebecca Holcombe. The messages she puts out are true and honest. She has a well-balanced approach to presenting Act 46. I think she’s a really good educator and I hope to have more conversations with her and hear more” from her, he said.
“A lot of rural Massachusetts schools are facing the same challenges ... [such as] declining enrollment, similar to Vermont’s schools ... but Massachusetts has no real solution. Act 46 is at least trying to support rural schools,” he said.
Marlboro School Board Chairman Douglas Korb said Kermenski’s work “crafting and managing a small school budget [and] researching and guiding curriculum” at Hawlemont impressed the hiring committee.
“His understanding that K-8 schools are educating children for the ‘economy of the future’ (his own words) is clearly evident in his work. His reputation in the Hawlemont School district precedes him, having driven enrollment up by more than 20 percent in the last two years. Marlboro parents and residents should be very excited to have him, and I am very excited to be working with him,” Korb said in a news release.
Kermenski is no stranger to Marlboro Elementary. He and his wife, Sara Kermenski (née Anderson) built their house in Marlboro “because of the school,” he said. He served on the school board for three years, and his wife, and father-in-law are alumni.
“I grew up on the Cape. When I was a kid, I had an aunt in Halifax. I always wanted to live in the woods,” Kermenski said.
Kermenski said he feels lucky to live in Marlboro, “and work in this school, and be in this town with so much family tradition.”