Departing Supt. Fernandes honored by colleagues with 2022 Bobby D’Allasandro Leadership Award

  • Athol Royalston Regional School District Supt. Darcy Fernandes on a recent Zoom meeting. Screen shot/Greg Vine

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 5/3/2022 12:19:43 PM
Modified: 5/3/2022 12:18:11 PM

ATHOL — Athol Royalston Regional School District Superintendent Darcy Fernandes was honored by colleagues recently at the 17th annual Women’s Educational Leadership Conference — held remotely — sponsored by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. Fernandes was given the 2022 Bobby D’Allasandro Leadership Award, which was presented to her by the former Cambridge school superintendent for whom the honor is named.

MASS Director of Operations Chris McGrath said this was the 13th year that the honor has been awarded. She described D’Allesandro as the “founding mother” of the Women’s Educational Leadership Network Group, which McGrath currently chairs.

“Darcy was nominated by a colleague,” said McGrath, “and was the unanimous choice of the Women’s Educational Leadership Network planning team.

“She has contributed greatly to the overall efforts of our association, and she has been a leader in the Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion project that we’ve undertaken; Darcy has taken a leadership role in doing that work. She’s been fantastic.”

McGrath said Fernandes’ mother was able to take part in the remote meeting and see her daughter receive the award.

Fernandes told the Athol Daily News, “I didn’t know anything about it. I was sitting in the meeting and all of a sudden they called my name. You know, I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and I think this award kind of demonstrates that work.

“For me, as a leader, I feel very strongly that the reason I have much success is because of the team that I work with. Since I’ve been here in Athol, I have worked with an executive team — school principals, teachers — that is just outstanding. And they’re willing to be open to change and try new things, and that’s made a real difference in being able to make some significant changes that have moved the district along.

“So, I’m proud not only for the award, but for the team that I’ve had to work with that helped me to shine as a leader.”

Fernandes said she hopes her receipt of the award helps highlight what she believes is an important message.

“People are seeing and understanding that, in this day and age, there is a real need to understand how to collaborate and bring people together from all different sides. To hear and know that one of the reasons I was selected (for the award) is because of my work in being able to collaborate with people just makes me feel good. It tells me that my work is not just about me, but understanding others and really working closely with them.”

Fernandes will be leaving the Athol Royalston regional school district at the end of the fiscal year, after she and the School Committee were unable to come to agreement on terms for a contract extension. She is completing her fifth year at the head of the ARRSD.

Four finalists

The field of candidates to replace Fernandes has been narrowed to four finalists: current Ware School Superintendent Marlene DiLeo; Blackston-Millville district Assistant Superintendent Matthew Ehrenworth; ARRSD Director of Intervention and Acceleration Cynthia Kennedy; and Northampton School Superintendent John Provost.

With the conclusion of April vacation, representatives of the School Committee will be making site visits to the home district of each finalist. Each candidate will also be visiting Athol and Royalston. The successful candidate will be announced following interviews with the full committee, currently scheduled for the week of May 9. The person selected will officially begin working for Athol Royalston Regional School District on July 1.

Greg Vine can be reached at

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