LEICESTER, Mass. — Leicester Middle School will open this week with new principal Jennifer Sauter, of Uxbridge, at the helm, after more than two years as assistant principal at Grafton Middle School.
Before Grafton, Sauter spent 11 years as a social studies teacher and department head at Northbridge High School and taught health at Smith Academy in Hatfield.
Although she enjoyed her time working in the classroom, Sauter said she became interested in an administrative role to have the opportunity to grow a professional community among adults.
Sauther said she was impressed on her first visit to Leicester Middle School by the interaction between teachers and students and among the faculty members.
"There's a genuine level of caring that creates a family within the school," she said. "Being able to come into that, and experience that welcoming from the faculty, only solidified what I thought when I walked away from the school that first time. This is a place where people care about each other, and they care about the education of students. And I want to help support and enhance that in whatever way I can."
For Sauter, working at the middle school level allows her to "be on the ground floor of developing students' adult personalities."
"That's huge," she said. "That's what I look forward to everyday, is seeing the kids and seeing them grow and mature."
"They're putting on different personalities and trying on new selves, but at the end they still want to be appreciated and they still want to do their very best work," she said. Students "grow at different rates, physically and emotionally, and being able to reach them at those different levels is really a key to them being successful in the classroom."
Additionally, Sauter is a parent of a middle school student and wants students' families to know that they are welcome in the building.
"I am a parent, I do put family first, and I think that makes me a better school leader, because I think I understand how important the family dynamic is," she said. "As much as we have the students for six-and-a-half hours a day, they're at home that much more — so the relationship we have with the students home is only going to benefit their time here in school."