Monomoy High’s Bill Burkhead Named Massachusetts Principal of the Year

Monomoy Regional High School Principal Bill Burkhead has been named principal of the year by the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association.

HARWICH – Monomoy Regional High School Principal Bill Burkhead has received recognition as the state’s Principal of the Year.

The Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association and the National Association of Secondary School Principals present the award to principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students, along with making contributions to their profession.

Burkhead said he is excited, proud, humbled and honored to be named principal of the year.

“I think it was a huge honor for not only me but I think it just validates all that we have worked hard on here in the four years as Monomoy,” Burkhead said.

Burkhead joined Monomoy from Normandin Middle School in New Bedford as the first principal of the district’s new regional high school.

The process to receive the award including answering several essay questions about the school and the three finalists were all interviewed in person.

Burkhead said the Assocation shared with him after the announcement that they were surprised that the school was able to build such a strong culture of innovation, creativity and love at the school in such a short period of time.

“I think we were able to create a culture and were able to accomplish a lot of things they were impressed with,” Burkhead said.

The school created an overall theme in its first year of “Home Away from Home” and have since had a new theme for each school year.

“We sat down together as a new school bringing Harwich and Chatham together and set a series of core values and beliefs that we would make our decisions on,” Burkhead said.

“That took time to build trust and come up with new ideas but we all agreed that we’d be willing to take risks, try new things and be a little unique and different than the ordinary school.”

Burkhead the school now has a thriving internship program, which includes more than 40 students and has a waiting list. Monomoy also has a global studies program that is unique to any schools in the area.

“Students have to hit a set of high criteria, including research papers, travel abroad and a bunch of high level courses,” he said.

Burkhead said the school also has a unique Jawsome lunch hour. It provides students with more than 60 choices at lunch and are free to make independent choices on how best to use their time.

The lunch hour was adopted from a similar program used in Florida.

Burkhead said all of the innovative ideas at the school have been teacher led.

“None of them were mine. I support them,” he said. “I think my biggest strength is surrounding myself with really bright, hardworking, innovative and creative people and then supporting them and then getting out of their way. I think that’s how we have been successful.”

Assistant Principal Janie Girolamo said Burkhead is a positive motivator for staff and students.

“He let’s people take risks and supports people in doing that,” Girolamo said. “So people feel comfortable trying new things, experimenting new things and it really helps the momentum and getting people to work together to get some great ideas off the ground and implemented.”

Girolamo said Burkhead demonstrates by his actions that everyone is important and won’t let any students or staff fall through the cracks.

History teacher Richard Houston said any good school starts with having a place where students feel comfortable learning and Burkhead has been a leader on the front since the school opened.

“Once you have that sense of community then you can build upon that to move the school forward,” Houston said.

Burkhead will be honored by his peers on July 25 at the MSSAA Summer Institute in Hyannis.


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