Academic excellence, creating community top of mind for new Pioneer principal

ANNIE SCANLAN-EMIGH

ANNIE SCANLAN-EMIGH

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-01-2024 3:07 PM

NORTHFIELD — The district is welcoming a veteran educator to Pioneer Valley Regional School this summer as Annie Scanlan-Emigh takes the helm as principal.

The assistant principal at Michael E. Smith Middle School in South Hadley and educator of 17 years is making her way up Interstate 91 to join Pioneer, where she is hoping to instill her values of academic excellence and sense of community while seizing the opportunity to work with new projects and initiatives.

“Pioneer is a school that has a ton of things that are just beginning, and in public schools, you don’t get that opportunity very often,” Scanlan-Emigh said, adding that she is a Vermont native who attended elementary school in a two-room schoolhouse. “I really value small schools and understand … the unique set of opportunities and challenges that exist when everyone is taking on multiple roles.”

Scanlan-Emigh is taking over as principal from Matthew Sullivan, who joined the district last year but decided to find work closer to home in the face of the long daily commute and the effect it was having on his family.

“Pioneer’s greatest strength is the students. We have great kids at this school,” Sullivan said. “I wish the new principal all the best and hope that she has a long and successful career here.”

Scanlan-Emigh has an extensive background in teaching history and civics at Quaboag Regional Middle High School from 2012 to 2021 and has spent the last two years as assistant principal in South Hadley. In taking on her first principal role, Scanlan-Emigh said the position is similar to the culture-building a teacher does in the classroom, just on a larger scale.

“With any good teacher, any good educator, you’re trying to meet the needs of the community, whether it’s a classroom community or a whole school community,” Scanlan-Emigh said. She added that she hopes to bring her values of academic excellence and a strong sense of community, while also encouraging social-emotional growth in students. “Every kid deserves a top-tier education where they are pushed to do their very best and they are given … the resources of high-quality teaching.”

In a school that has had a revolving door of administrators and principals over the last half decade, she said Pioneer is where she sees a long-term home with a strong district administration in place and a crop of exciting new programs, such as the outdoor and environmental education initiatives being implemented at all three district schools.

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Alongside those draws, Scanlan-Emigh said the teachers are buying-in, too, as she has had several staff members reach out to her via email to start discussions.

“I think that people are getting the sense that I’m here to stay, that I’m committed and I really want Pioneer to be successful, and they are so hungry for it,” she said. “I think as a team we’re going to accomplish some really great things.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com.