The West Tisbury School has a new principal, Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss announced Wednesday.
Donna Lowell-Bettencourt, interim director of student support services at Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools, will take over the role before the start of the school year, Mr. Weiss said.
“We have chosen Donna Lowell-Bettencourt and she has agreed. We will work out the details of her moving from the present position to that one in the next week or so,” he said.
Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt previously worked as an interim principal and interim assistant principal at the West Tisbury School while outgoing principal Michael Halt served tours of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps reserves in Afghanistan and Iraq. She was named assistant principal upon Mr. Halt’s return, before being tapped for student support services director last year.
“She really has the correct outlook and set of skills to do an outstanding job there,” Mr. Weiss said.
The announcement comes following a brief search to replace Mr. Halt, who announced last month he had accepted a job in California. On Tuesday a search committee made up of faculty, parents and administrators, as well as members of the Wampanoag tribe interviewed three candidates before recommending Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt for the job.
“Last night there were interviews with those three people and then the search committee . . . agonized and gave me some very clear advice, which I accepted,” Mr. Weiss said.
Mr. Weiss praised the search committee’s choice, noting that Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt has served in a variety of positions at the school as well as at the Island-wide level. “She not only has a building knowledge, but a whole-Island knowledge,” he said.
Mr. Weiss said he could not release the names of the other candidates because their interviews occurred in the initial stage of the search.
Reached Thursday, Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt reacted briefly to the news. “I’m very excited about returning to the West Tisbury school as the new principal,” she said. “I love the West Tisbury school and the community . . . It’s a great school for me to return to and I am excited to return in this new role.”
With the position for West Tisbury School principal now filled, Mr. Weiss will turn his attention to two other posts: director of student support services, vacated by Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt, and assistant superintendent, a position held by Mr. Halt’s wife, Laurie Halt, who also recently announced her resignation.
The search for assistant superintendent will be conducted by the Cape Cod Collaborative, and if no suitable candidates are found, Mr. Weiss said he will appoint a local educator as an interim assistant superintendent.
The timing of the resignation, which came just two weeks ago and was accepted by the school committee on Monday, may hinder the search.
“I’m not overly optimistic because it’s late in the season,” he said. The school began advertising for the position two weeks ago, he said.
As for Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt’s former position, that search will now get underway. “I’ve got my work cut out for me, don’t I?” he said of his summer plans.
Olivia Hull contributed to this story.