Beverly Farms Elementary second-graders put their persuasive writing to use. The bulletin board outside one Beverly Farms classroom is lined with letters from students hoping to convince Laura Siegelbaum not to retire as principal.
But Siegelbaum’s mind is made up. She will retire at the end of June after 12 years as Beverly Farms’ principal. “It’s time,” she said. “I just feel like it’s time to start a new chapter.”
Siegelbaum will remain in the position until July 1, so Mark Kelsch, the community superintendent for the quad cluster that includes Beverly Farms, expects there will be overlap time in which her successor can observe the school and learn from Siegelbaum’s experience.
“We find that the culture of the area has high expectations for principals,” said Kelsch.
Veronica Espinoza has had children at Beverly Farms for eight straight years. “My kids love her,” Espinoza said. “The reason why I moved here is because of this school.” Because of Siegelbaum, Espinoza’s daughter wants to be a principal.
KISSING A PIG, dancing in pajamas or dancing with Elvis were several signature moments for Siegelbaum. Each served as an incentive for Beverly Farms students to help in fundraising efforts or read-a-thons.
“[I’ll remember] Mrs. Siegelbaum dancing in her pajamas, which she wore again on Read Across America Day,” said Joanne Sperling, a Beverly Farms parent.
This year, Siegelbaum persuaded Elvis to perform at Beverly Farms as a kickoff for the school’s read-a-thon. Pledge money students raised went to replace the school’s monkey bars, which were destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 1993. The students listened to the King — they raised enough money to replace the monkey bars before summer vacation starts this June.
“I think there was a hidden talent there,” said Francie Cleary, president of the Beverly Farms PTA. “He created such energy and excitement.”
“She has always been supportive of my ideas," said Espinoza, who helped start an international fair at the school. “I think she has a good relationship with the teachers, and that’s important.”
“We didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but in the last few years, it’s improved,” said Judy Lichtman. Parent of a special education student, Lichtman said the school wasn’t very open to mainstreaming when her child first entered school, but has become more so over the years.
Siegelbaum said that she worked in special education before she was a principal. “We always believed that we should mainstream children as much as possible as soon as they’re ready,” Siegelbaum said.
SIEGELBAUM said she’ll miss the Beverly Farms children the most. “I guess it sounds corny, but it’s a gift to have these children,” she said. “These children are so lovable, and they’re so eager to learn.”
When her resignation is official this July, Siegelbaum is going to Disney World. She isn’t sure what the next step will be, but has a general idea. “It had better involve children in some way, and education,” she said.
Wayside Elementary is also interviewing principal candidates. Ken Snoots took over as Wayside’s interim principal earlier this year after Suzette Chagnon went to Broad Acres Elementary.