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Peck appointed as new J.W. Leary Junior High principal

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MASSENA — The next principal at J.W. Leary Junior High School will come from within the district’s ranks.

Burton L. Peck was appointed as the new principal during the board of education’s monthly session Thursday night.

Mr. Peck, who serves as a business and English teacher at Massena High School, will begin his new duties Jan. 21 at a prorated salary of $73,000.

Assisting him with the transition into his new role will be Steven J. Barlow, a retired principal from the Ogdensburg City School District who has been serving as interim principal since Nov. 21 at a rate of $350 a day. Mr. Barlow’s appointment as interim principal also was approved by the board of education Thursday night.

Mr. Barlow replaced Jesse C. Coburn, who was appointed as the grades seven-through-12 principal in the Heuvelton Central School District. Mr. Coburn had served as J.W. Leary Junior High principal since August 2008. Massena’s board of education had accepted his resignation Nov. 7. The resignation was effective today.

Interim Superintendent William W. Crist said Mr. Peck stood out among the candidates for a number of reasons.

“The others were strong candidates,” he said.

What Mr. Peck brought to the table, however, were qualities such as his “love of children, an interest in improving the quality of education at Leary and his reputation as a teacher.”

He described Mr. Peck as “an individual committed to the Massena community. He’s someone who thinks well on his feet. I think he has a very level-headed demeanor he will present with staff, students and parents,” Mr. Crist said.

Mr. Peck’s tenure and knowledge of the district also made him an attractive choice for the position, according to Mr. Crist.

“He’s a known commodity,” he said. “I think for Burt to come out on top shows his qualities are something the school is ready to accept.”

Mr. Peck has associate degrees in forestry and business from Paul Smith’s College, a bachelor of arts degree in English from SUNY Potsdam, a master of studies degree from Vermont Law School, a master of science degree in teaching from SUNY Potsdam and a master of education degree in education administration from St. Lawrence University, Canton.

Officials had spent the early part of the week interviewing candidates.

The committee included stakeholder representatives from the J.W. Leary community, including teachers, support staff, parents and some administrators.

The appointments of Mr. Peck and Mr. Barlow were among eight approved by the board of education Thursday.

It also appointed Angela Wood to an extension as district treasurer from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28; Beth Reyes as a high school special education teacher; Angela Smith as a Jefferson Elementary Title VII teaching assistant; Kristen Lacombe as a Madison Elementary teaching assistant; Lori Richards as internal claims auditor, and Frank Zembeck as a custodial worker.

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