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Your Tewksbury Today

People You Know: Dewing School's New Principal Mary 'Terry' Gerrish

May 19, 2015 02:04AM ● By Bill Gilman

Newly hired Dewing School Principal Mary "Terry" Gerrish

 For those of you who don't know,  there will be a couple of new principals in town starting at the beginning of the next school year.  One of them is Mary Gerrish. "Terry" as she likes to be called is currently the principal of the William A. Berkowitz Elementary School in Chelsea.
The Berkowitz school houses grades one through four.  Terry has been awarded the prestigious position of principal of our own Loella F. Dewing School here in town.  She has quite an impressive resume and a wonderful attitude to start her new position here in the fall.  Please read on as we get to know a little more about Terry.
Hollie Gonzalez - What experience do you have coming into this new role as the Dewing School principal?
Terry Gerrish - I started out in business school.  Accounting and business management when I was younger, but my passion was teaching.  I went back to school and got my bachelors degree at Babson College, then my Masters of Education at UMass Lowell. 
HG - Do you have a lot of teaching experience?
TG - I taught for 3 years at Quincy Middle School.  I taught math in Bedford for two years, then was the assistant principal and moved on to become the Assistant Superintendent.  After that I went to the city of Lowell where I was the Coordinator for the Special Programs which put me in charge of 18 different schools.  I loved that job, but my heart has always been in the schools.  I was offered a Principal position in Chelsea, and I took it.  I have been here now for 6 years.
HG - Why did you choose to leave and come to Tewksbury?
TG - Not only will it give me a chance to work in a wonderful school system, but this town has a personal connection to me.  My husbands family used to own Palmer and Parker Lumber here years ago.  It was on East Street.  They imported foreign and domestic hardwood.  They moved here from Charlestown and were in business for over 100 years!  Being in Tewksbury will definitely shorten my commute as I live in Billerica and I am certainly going to love being closer to my kids and granddaughter Mary.  She is 18 months old now.
HG- What do you think it will be like coming from such a big city like Chelsea to a town like Tewksbury?
TG - I am so excited!  I have had both the luxury and good fortune to work in both cities and suburbs.  Tewksbury is such a great community and I feel like I am coming home.  I love the idea of working in an elementary school.  I am excited to work with all the teachers and staff there.  Most people don't realize that elementary school teachers are the hardest working teachers out there.  Many of them make lifelong impressions on a child's future.
HG - What do you think of the structure and appearance of the Dewing School?
TG - Well, coming from a school with only concrete and no grass outside, I think its great.  I am fully aware of the issues with the school and am looking forward to working with Dr. O'Connor and the school committee to see what we can accomplish together.  The inside has very large classrooms compared to where I am now, and the technology is there.  As long as there are strong teachers, the aesthetics can come later.
HG - What would you like to see new at the Dewing School?
TG- It's hard to tell right now.  I don't know it well enough yet.  With the number of teachers there who do know it well, I plan on doing a lot of listening and hearing to the veterans there.  I prefer to listen to the faculty and staff with the experience and ask them what matters most to them.  I don't want to come in and change things.  I want to see what works.  I would however like to develop a program specifically geared towards children with significant Autism and/or behavioral difficulties.
HG - Will parents be able to contact you and meet with you?
TG - I plan on being pretty transparent.  I want to maintain an open door policy with parents.  I think it takes a lot of time to develop relationships with families.  I would like to create those relationships, as well as maintain the current ones.  I want to keep a partnership between myself, the staff and parents.  I think if we all try to figure out how to be successful teachers and lead our children on paths to greatness, we will all create wonderful things together.
There you have it.  A wonderful leader coming to Tewksbury.  Terry was very down to Earth.  She genuinely seems to have heart when speaking about teaching and being a principal. Most importantly, she has a love for this town.  She says she loves this part of the state very much and being able to teach here is an added bonus.  She has two children Kate and Matthew.  They both live in the area.  Her son Matthew is an accountant and her daughter Kate is an electrical engineer at Raytheon.  She is getting married soon.  Congratulations Kate, and Congratulations Terry Gerrish.  Welcome to town!
Quick 5 - Terry Gerrish
Favorite movie of all time - The Godfather
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor - Mocha Chip
Best place to shop - The Paper Store
The last vacation I took was to - Alaska on a cruise
On a Sunday Afternoon, you can find me.. - at home, outside playing with my granddaughter, my pride and joy, Mary
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