This post was written by summer intern Michael O’Neill.
Jason Merrill is the new interim principal of Melrose High School, but he’s not new to the school.
Principal Merrill, a Melrose resident, graduated from Melrose High in 1996 and has been the assistant principal there for the past three years. “This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” he said. “Being an alumnus and also a resident and a Melrose public schools parent, I’m very invested in this high school’s success and in the Melrose public schools as a whole.”
Principal Merrill began his career as an educator in Saugus. “As I started to teach and get involved in coaching, an opportunity arose to move forward into administration and it just seemed like such a natural fit.” He stayed in the Saugus school system for 13 years, but when the assistant principal position opened up at Melrose High School, he didn’t hesitate: “When I saw the opportunity to come back to Melrose, I thought it would be great.”
His priority as principal is to create an environment in which every student and staff member knows he is working for them. “First and foremost,” Principal Merrill said, “I want everyone in the building to feel welcomed and to know that I care about them as individuals and people, whether they’re staff or students.” He also wants to ensure students and faculty “feel their time is respected” and aims “to motivate them to be their best.” As part of that process, the school will revise its mission statement and learning expectations. “I want to give students a voice in what we do here,” Principal Merrill said. “What [revising the mission statement] will do is really give our staff and students and everyone that’s here in our school community an opportunity to decide what’s important to us.”
The new school year will bring some significant physical changes to the school, including a new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) lab, guidance office, administrative offices, and a complete renovation of the library into a state-of-the-art Learning Commons.
Principal Merrill is comfortable with his new role. “I’ve had some of the responsibilities of a principal before, so I understand what that looks like,” he said, adding that his three years as assistant principal at MHS will be key. “What’s important is knowing the pulse of the building, knowing the students and what’s going on, and I feel like I have a pretty good sense of that.”
He’s also surrounded by familiar faces, as a number of administrative openings have been filled by his colleagues. Former assistant principal Stephen Forgarty is the new Athletic Director, former director of social studies Bryan Corrigan and former special education administrator Cari Berman have moved into the two vacant assistant principal slots, and former MHS principal Marianne Farrell is now the business manager for the Melrose Public Schools. As Principal Merrill put it, “We get a little bit of change while keeping consistency, and I think consistency is very important to people. It’s difficult in any organization if there’s constant change in leadership.” Principal Merrill also mentioned his good working relationship with Farrell as a major benefit.
As he takes on his new duties, Principal Merrill is ready to help lead the school he once attended: “I really like having to ability to have an effect on a lot of people—adults and kids, teachers and students—and having the the ability to not only lead them but also help them grow as leaders within the school.”