Peabody High has new leader

Dr. Steven Magno

PEABODY — Superintendent-elect Josh Vadala announced on Wednesday the appointment of Steven Magno as the next principal of Peabody Veterans Memorial High starting July 1.

Magno served previously as Revere’s Seacoast Alternative High Principal.

“Mr. Magno comes to Peabody with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of education. He grew up in Peabody, where he attended the Burke Elementary School and the Higgins Middle School,” Vadala said.

Magno comes to Peabody Public Schools with 22 years of experience in education, Vadala said, all of them in Revere. This includes 10 years as a high school administrator.

Magno began his career as a special education teacher and spent six years as the high school special education team chairperson, said Vadala, the outgoing assistant superintendent in Revere.

In 2010, Magno became Revere High’s assistant principal. During the past four years, he has served as the principal of Seacoast Alternative High School.

“Mr. Magno comes highly recommended as an outstanding leader, strong communicator and a collaborative team player. He takes a student centered approach to education, has extensive experience in special education and a strong desire to support and empower educators,” Vadala told the School Committee during a remote Zoom meeting Tuesday.

“I am excited to be chosen among a number of excellent candidates as the next principal of Peabody High School, and to work in a district where collaborative efforts among all stakeholders in the learning community are recognized for continuous improvement of the student experience,” said Magno in a statement. In it, he outlined his experience in taking “a hands-on approach with the recruitment, hiring and mentoring of high quality teachers.” 

The principal vacancy at Peabody High was created when former principal Eric Buckley resigned last July after six years on the job. The late Superintendent Cara Murtagh, who died last November, had appointed Assistant Superintendent Chris Lord as the interim high school principal at the start of the school year.

The principal search was aided by the schools’ Director of Human Resources Stephen Farrell. Vadala said the search committee interviewed nine candidates on May 14-15. 

The search committee included Farrell, who is also a high-school parent; Peabody Federation of Teachers President Mary Henry; the director of performing arts, Jon Simmons; High School Special Education Team Chairperson Shannon Crompton; High School Dean Bill Krol; High School Resource Officer Manny Costa; sophomore class officer Jacquelyn Scopa; School Committee member John Olimpio; and Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who is also the chairman of the School Committee.

“Steven Magno is a proud product of the Peabody school system who has established a tremendous track record in education,” said Bettencourt, in a statement. The School Committee and I feel that his experience and credentials are especially well-suited to lead Peabody High School into the future.”

The committee moved forward the names of two candidates, Vadala said.

On Friday, Vadala shared the high school’s recent New England Association of Schools and Colleges report with the candidates, and conducted interviews on Monday based on that report. After that, Vadala said he was able to confirm the search committee’s top choice as “the right fit for Peabody.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Bettencourt complimented the search process organized by Farrell and the quality of discussion throughout. He was pleased with the quality of the nine candidates.

“I think the two that we put forward were really top notch,” Bettencourt said. “We enthusiastically put those two names forward and are very excited to have Mr. Magno on board, and I think he’s going to do a terrific job for us.”

School Committee member Joseph Amico, who works as a teacher in Revere, said he has known Magno for 20 years, though he never had the privilege of working with him. 

“I always heard great things about him,” Amico said. “He’s knowledgeable. He’s fair. And, as a Peabody kid, he will do a great job at the high school.”

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