Published November 20, 2019


LYNNFIELD — After receiving rave reviews from both parents and educators, Huckleberry Hill School Interim Principal Melissa Wyland was appointed the elementary school’s permanent leader on Friday, Nov. 15.

Wyland had been leading the elementary school on an interim basis since this past summer. She succeeds former Principal Brian Bemiss, who left last June in order to become principal of Fisher Elementary School in Walpole.

Superintendent Jane Tremblay announced the appointment in a letter sent to parents and guardians. 

“After careful consideration, including a review of the feedback from all stakeholders, it is my pleasure to announce that Mrs. Wyland has been offered and has accepted the position of principal at Huckleberry Hill School,” Tremblay stated. “I do not believe there is a more qualified, passionate and genuine educator to lead Huckleberry Hill School. Effective immediately, Mrs. Wyland is the principal of Huckleberry Hill School.”

In an email sent to the Villager, Wyland said it was an honor to be named Huckleberry Hill’s permanent principal.

“I am excited and honored to be named the principal of Huckleberry Hill Elementary School,” said Wyland. “I have always been incredibly fortunate to be a member of the HHS family. I am committed to working hard for the entire Huckleberry community. The faculty and I will ensure that our school continues to be a safe and nurturing place for students, staff and families to learn and grow to their fullest potential.”  

MELISSA WYLAND was appointed Huckleberry Hill School’s permanent principal on Nov. 15. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

Tremblay recalled that the permanent principal job was posted internally and Wyland was the only applicant. A screening committee interviewed the former first grade teacher last month. After the interview concluded, the committee unanimously voted to name Wyland as the finalist for the principal job.

Subsequently, Wyland participated in a meet and greet with parents and educators in Huckleberry Hill’s all-purpose room on Nov. 13. Thirteen people attended the public interview.

Wyland recalled that she received her undergraduate degree in Psychology. Prior to beginning her teaching career, she worked in a psychiatric unit with children and adolescents.

“It was a really powerful and meaningful experience for me,” said Wyland. “I worked with kids who had PTSD, were in crisis and had behavior challenges. I learned so much from that experience. That helped me build up my philosophy about how important it is to help children succeed.”

After taking time off to raise her daughters, Wyland started volunteering in her daughter’s first grade classroom.

“That really inspired me to go back to school and get my degree in education,” said Wyland. “That was life changing for me.”

Wyland taught first grade in Melrose for two years before beginning her tenure at Huckleberry Hill.

“Melrose closed the school,” said Wyland. “All of the new teachers got laid off and I thought that was the worst thing that could happen to me professionally. I was devastated. It did not take me long to realize that was the best thing to happen to me because I landed at Huckleberry Hill the following fall.”

Wyland has worked at Huckleberry Hill for 18 years. While she earned her principal’s license in 2012, Wyland never pursued an administrator position in another school or district.

“I could not imagine leaving Huckleberry Hill,” said Wyland. “I know I would never find a place like this. The second reason I never left is I love teaching. I loved teaching up until that last day in June last year. I got to cover another teacher for an hour-and-a-half the other day, and I still love it. I know it sounds cliché, but Huckleberry Hill feels like a home away from home. I love coming to work every day.”

While parents and educators were given an opportunity to ask Wyland questions during her public interview, none of them did. Instead, all of the attendees sung Wyland’s praises.

Parent Katrina Philbin said Wyland was incredibly helpful and supportive while she was deciding which school she would be enrolling her son in.

“I am really hoping you get the position,” said Philbin. “You have done a great job so far. You really care and are highly recommended.”

Lantern Lane resident Ann Glynn agreed.

“The reason why the room is not packed is because everyone believes this is a no brainer,” said Glynn.

Summer Street resident Toni Rebelo concurred with Glynn’s viewpoint.

“When people come out in droves, they are upset,” said Rebelo. “I am here to support Melissa because the first thing that went through my mind when I heard Mr. Bemiss wasn’t coming back was is Melissa going to get the job. It’s a natural fit for the school and our kids. What makes Huckleberry Hill so special is the community, and that comes from the top down. That was the one thing none of us wanted to change. It would be a disservice not having her leading the school.”

Huckleberry Hill special education teacher Lisa McNamara said the faculty “supports Melissa 100 million percent.”

Tremblay thanked the parents and educators for the feedback. She also said she received a number of emails from parents and the faculty about Wyland’s candidacy. She said Wyland has provided a “seamless transition” since taking over Huckleberry Hill.

“Out of all of the things that was I worried about this fall, Huckleberry Hill wasn’t one of them,” said Tremblay. “And the reason why it wasn’t one of them is because I knew Melissa had it.”

Wyland was touched by the meeting’s attendees’ kind words.

“I wish the whole staff was here,” said Wyland. “I would not be where I am as an interim principal without them.”

Wyland also thanked the parents in attendance for giving her the opportunity to work with their children.

After Tremblay announced Wyland was appointed permanent principal, Huckleberry Hill PTO Co-President Chris Mattia congratulated her in a Facebook post.

“The entire Huckleberry Hill School community; the students, parents and teachers are so incredibly lucky to have Mrs. Wyland be appointed permanent principal at HHS,” Mattia stated. “We all are looking forward to all of the incredible things that she has in store. Congratulations.”

School Committee Vice Chairman Rich Sjoberg, whose three children all attended Huckleberry Hill, concurred with Mattia’s sentiment.

“One of the guiding principles for Superintendent Tremblay is building leadership capacity among staff,” said Sjoberg in an email sent to the Villager. “Our commitment of high standards is guided by the Administrative Leadership Team as well as on peer-to-peer levels to meet our high expectations of achievement here in Lynnfield. The benefit of this shared commitment is when such an import role as an elementary school principal position opened up at Huckleberry Hill, Superintendent Tremblay, upon posting for the position, allowed for all of the built upon strengths of Mrs. Wyland’s tenure to shine throughout the interview process.

“Our elementary schools are each special in their own way and for the staff and students, there is not a more perfect person with such intimate knowledge of the Huckleberry culture and learning environment than Melissa Wyland,” Sjoberg continued. “I congratulate Melissa and wish her well in her new permanent role as principal of HHS.”