Meet The New Superintendent


Lilli DiGrande, Co-Editor In Chief

This fall, the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District welcomed the new superintendent, John Provost, to the administration. The role was previously held by Albert Ganem who retired this summer.

As superintendent of the Hampden-Wilbraham District, Provost oversees the learning operations for grades pre-k to 12th. But what specific responsibilities does he have for the high school? Provost works with the principal, Mr. Hale, to ensure all students have the best learning opportunities that are provided so they can be prepared for life after high school.

Mr. Provost was previously the superintendent of Northampton Public Schools for the last eight years, and learned some lessons that he hopes to carry on to the Hampden-Wilbraham district, one of those being the importance of culture.

“I’ve been spending some time shadowing students throughout the school, and I’ve noticed that there’s a great deal of respect between students and teachers,” Provost said. “I think making sure that the strength of this district is cherished and built upon is probably the greatest lesson that I would try to apply here.”

Provost wants to continue to help strengthen the connection that the community at Minnechaug already has. One of the ways he hopes to do this is by expanding the circle of relationships. Provost showed some data the other week at the school committee meeting that showed that about 81% of students at the high school have an adult that they feel comfortable speaking with about their problems.

“But that makes me worried about the other 19%,” Provost said. “So figuring out who are those kids that are disconnected, and making a concerted effort to get them connected because I think that’s a way to build on the strengths that we already have.”

Provost believes that the guidance department plays a very important role in building connections with students because they have an opportunity to work with students in ways that other school staff members may not have. Provost thinks that one way to build a circle of relationships is by utilizing something called the “huddle” method. This method can be practiced by guidance counselors a couple of times a week, where they go through a list of students who may not have a connection to any adult, and identify kids who may be in trouble with behavior, attendance, or grades. Counselors would then try to figure out what they can do to problem solve with those kids so they can get them back on the right path.

When it comes to motivating students and staff within the school environment, Provost thinks that people are motivated when they are a part of an organization where they feel that they are cared about.

“Students perform a lot more when they feel that their teachers care about them and I feel like teachers perform at a higher level when they feel their administrators care for them,” Provost said. “Another strategy is something called servant leadership, which is about flipping the pyramid where each level is trying to support the levels that come below them.”

Provost believes that a lot of those feelings of being cared about already exist here at Minnechaug and within the district. He referenced one of his materials, called Leading Together, which is about building adult communities within schools, and he has been working on this idea with his administrative leadership team.

“Basically, it’s a set of protocols for making sure that everyone in the school environment has a way of feeling like they’ve been heard,” he said. “We can make sure that every opinion is heard and that people have a chance to express themselves.”

Along with these strategies for leadership skills, Provost’s main goal for this year is implementing the strategic plan. The plan was created by the Steering Committee, which includes community members, student representatives, school employees and school committee members. It has a number of action steps that Provost is tasked with implementing over the course of the next five years. Different sections have different timelines. There are 100 action steps in total.

“Delivering this strategic plan with fidelity to what I understand the intent and spirit of its makers was really what my plan for this year and every year that I am here under this five year strategic plan,” Provost said.

Another part of the strategic plan was the development of the diversity and equity inclusion team, which has now been created. Provost hopes to create a more open and inclusive environment within the district. On an individual level, he highlighted the importance of recognizing our own biases in order to help create change.

“I think that many people have been excluded at times and have also excluded others at times,” Provost said. “The goal of creating a more inclusive environment is around interrupting that process where we hurt or exclude others.”

Lastly, Provost believes that the district is already very strong and he has been impressed by the student body since he’s been here.

“It’s a great bunch of kids and it’s a joy for me to walk in through those doors every morning,” Provost said. “Now every time I walk out of the office I am in the heart of the school and that’s great.”