WELLFLEET — The Nauset Public Schools announced on March 30 that Adam O’Shea will be the new principal at Wellfleet Elementary School starting July 1. Mary Beth Rodman is retiring at the end of June after 14 years in the role.
Rodman’s salary was $132,000, according to Wellfleet’s 2021 annual report — the latest available. O’Shea said his salary is still being negotiated.
O’Shea is currently principal at Monomoy Middle School in Chatham and lives in Eastham. He was selected for the principal’s job at Monomoy in 2020; before that he was Monomoy’s assistant principal. He was also interim principal at Chatham Elementary and supervisor of elementary curriculum and instruction for the Monomoy Regional School District.
O’Shea has been an educator for 18 years, 11 of them on Cape Cod. He has also worked in upstate New York and Fairfax, Va. and has experience teaching kindergarten, third, and fourth grades.
“I have always been impressed with Wellfleet’s attention to high standards, focus on student success, and most notably a school that embodies the characteristics of its community: charming, diverse, and hard-working,” O’Shea said in a March 20 announcement from school district.
O’Shea, who grew up in Homer, N.Y., comes from a family of educators: his sister teaches high school chemistry, his brother is an adjunct professor at Cornell University, and eight of his nine cousins are teachers. “It’s a family business,” O’Shea told the Independent on April 4.
The person who influenced him most, he said, was his mother, who taught fourth grade. “I knew I wanted to be an educator when I was in high school and had the opportunity to spend time in my mother’s classroom,” he said. “Kids loved her for her creative, caring approach. I have spent my career working to create a similar atmosphere in my classroom.”
O’Shea has had his eye on Wellfleet Elementary for a while. In his early 20s, he was a substitute teacher for the Nauset Regional School District.
“I just fell in love with the town and school — its cozy, quaint feeling, the sense of community that surrounds it, and how much it is supported by the community,” O’Shea said. “I kept this thought in the back of my head, that if there ever were an opportunity here, I would jump on it. And thankfully, it has worked out.”
O’Shea was one of two finalists for the position along with Patrick Cone, the current principal at Alfred Hanmer Elementary School in Wethersfield, Conn. O’Shea and Cone were selected from a pool of 16 applicants by a search committee comprising 13 Wellfleet Elementary School staff members, parents, caregivers, and administrators, said Nauset School District Human Resources Director Joanna Hughes.
According to the district’s announcement, O’Shea holds a B.S. degree in elementary education from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, a master’s in education from SUNY Cortland, and a certificate in educational leadership from Le Moyne College in DeWitt, N.Y. just outside Syracuse.
The principal search began in late January; six applicants were interviewed, and the search committee decided on O’Shea and Cone as finalists on March 9 before turning the decision over to School Supt. Brooke Clenchy.
O’Shea will be introduced at the April 11 Wellfleet School Committee meeting.
Wellfleet parent Erika Meads, whose daughter Harper is currently in the fourth grade at the school, hopes O’Shea will be as attuned to the needs of the core community of local parents as Rodman has been. “The most important thing for me is that the new principal really understands our sense of community here,” Meads said.
“Mary Beth has done a really good job of understanding our needs and making us feel important,” Meads said. “And her face was always at every community event.”
O’Shea said he knows many people leave town after the summer, and that it is vitally important to make sure that programs exist after that busy time ends.
“Wellfleet is a tight-knit community, and within that community I want to seek a voice from everybody,” he said.
Rodman said she is retiring “with great joy and gratitude for landing in this amazing community. It’s been nothing but an honor.
“When I got the call 14 years ago that I was the selected candidate,” she said, “it felt like I won the lottery. It still does.”