CHATHAM – When Abigail Dudley moved from Massachusetts to Oregon six years ago, she knew it was going to be temporary. When it came time to move back, she wanted to look for a job in a small school system, and after doing some research, the only district she applied to was Monomoy.
“It just all seemed so exciting, just so much more innovative and kind of like cutting edge from what I would think a teeny little school district on the Cape would pull off,” she said.
In the fall, Dudley will find herself working for that teeny district as the new assistant principal at Monomoy Regional Middle School. The small size of both the district and the school is something she was looking for; Monomoy Middle School is about half the size of her current school, Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, Ore., one of four in the city. It has only two grades, seventh and eighth, with a total school population of 850 students. Monomoy middle has about 400 students.
“It's harder to form relationships with our families when you're serving so many students in one school,” she said. She's looking forward to working with a smaller school community where she can get to know people better.
Dudley was the unanimous choice of an interview committee charged with recommending a replacement for Adam O'Shea, who was recently named principal at the middle school following the retirement of Mark Wilson. The group, which reviewed 27 applications, was impressed with her “personable approach and her passion for education,” according to a press release.
Previously a special education coordinator and dean of students at Evergreen Middle School, Dudley taught in special education for 13 years; the field is “definitely at the core of my work in education,” she said. She is interested in areas where students are traditionally marginalized or under served, such as special education or racially or ethnically diverse populations. Her doctoral thesis at the University of Portland focused on the link between culturally responsive each practices and disproportionality in special education.
“If we can predict the groups of students that are going to achieve poorly, and we can, then there's probably some issues within our system that needs to be addressed,” she said. She dove deeply into the Monomoy district's data, and while the Cape is not as diverse as her current district, there are pockets of ethnic and socio-economic and gender diversity that are traditionally under served.
Originally from Sudbury, Dudley attended the University of Massachusetts and earned master's degrees at Framingham State University and UMass Boston. Six years ago she and her husband decided to move to Oregon for a “change of pace.”
“I realized I'd lived in Massachusetts all my life and wanted to try something different,” she said.
When she returns to the state and begins working at Monomoy later this month, she and her husband will be staying with her parents in Marstons Mills.
“I'm super excited about this opportunity, getting to know the kids, getting to know the families, understanding the needs of the community better,” she said. “I promise I will work hard on behalf of the families and their kids.”