, Salem, MA

Local News

March 26, 2014

Beverly chooses new principal for Centerville

BEVERLY — An assistant elementary school principal in Winchester has been named the new principal at Centerville Elementary School.

Julie Smith was selected yesterday by Superintendent Steven Hiersche over two other finalists. She will replace Karla Pressman, who will retire at the end of the school year.

“We had three very strong candidates, which was pretty exciting for me,” Hiersche said. “Julie has some experience that’s a good fit for the school and also a good fit for Beverly.”

The other finalists were Centerville School teacher Elaina Bryne and Briscoe Middle School assistant principal Terry Conant.

Smith, 38, is an assistant principal at Ambrose Elementary School in Winchester. She has also been an assistant principal at Lowell Community Charter Public School and a first- and second-grade teacher in Chittenango, N.Y. She grew up in the Thousand Islands region of northern New York and graduated from Syracuse University.

Smith said she has “big shoes to fill” in replacing Pressman, who has been an elementary school principal in Beverly since 1995, including the last six years at Centerville.

Smith said she will spend time with Pressman before she officially starts her job on July 1.

“Centerville, from everything I’ve heard, is a fantastic school,” Smith said. “I do not believe I have to go in there and fix things. I heard they have a great staff that sort of consider themselves as a family. I hope they’re willing to accept me into their family.”

Smith said she decided to move from the classroom into administration when she realized that schools had not changed much from when she was a student.

“That compelled me to get involved in a larger conversation about how we organize kids, especially kids who are struggling and those who are doing well,” she said. “Teachers have a nearly impossible job to meet the needs of all learners. As educators, I don’t know that we’ve brought our best ideas to the table yet.”

Hiersche said Smith has a “good personality” that will help her to follow a “very strong principal” in Pressman.

Hiersche, who was named superintendent last November, is scheduled to start working full time as superintendent in Beverly next week.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or

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