Earlier this week, Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg announced that Manchester Essex Regional High School principal James Lee will take over the duties of headmaster prior to the start of the 2012-2013 school year.
Lee has spent six years at his current position and is the former principal of Newburyport High School and also Manchester Essex Regional Middle School. He has negotiated a three-year contract with and will begin on July 1, though transition discussions with key school officials have already begun, Lee said in an interview on Wednesday.
“Braintree right now is a great school," Lee said. "It’s already in a very fine position.”
That high-level of success, and the engagement Lee said he has seen in the school system – "the pride and sense of community" – drove him to apply for the position.
"For me, that was the compelling factor," he said.
Lee was selected from a round of 20 applicants by a local selection committee consisting of teachers, administrators, parents, students and School Committee member Lisa Heger. Dr. Kurzberg said he was unable to find a suitable candidate in the first pool of 26 applicants vetted earlier this year.
David Swanton, a faculty member in Braintree for 32 years and headmaster at BHS for the past seven, will retire this August.
Lee is a long-time Wakefield resident and began his career in education 22 years ago as a special education teacher in Stoneham after earning his a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Lowell. He also has a bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
About 20 years ago, Lee said, he first got to know Braintree as a buyer for the Grossman Companies, and found at the time that he enjoyed the town.
“Braintree is a hard-working, well-established community," he said.