A double-whammy is hitting the west side of town this year as West Middle School Principal Rebecca "Becky" Franks and West Elementary School principal Liz Roos are both retiring at the end of the school year .
Franks has been at West Middle for 25 years and Roos at West Elementary for 34 years.
Both women started out as teachers at their respective schools and have been strong leaders in Andover's school district ever since.
"I can not overstate their impact on the APS family," said School Superintendent Sheldon Berman. "Their leadership has inspired countless teachers and students to embrace learning, empathy and sense of community. Countless times throughout their careers, without even being asked, Liz and Becky set examples of selflessness."
Berman said the elementary and middle schools are exemplary because of the devotion of Franks and Roos.
"It has been a true pleasure working alongside Liz and Becky," he said. "We are honored by the legacy they will leave behind."
In a recent email exchange, both women reflected on their years in Andover as they answered a series of questions from the Andover Townsman.
What was the biggest change at your school during those years?
Roos: "I have had 34 great years and there have been many changes during this time. We have ranged in size from over 1,000 students in the 1980s to an average student body of 610. The opening of High Plain and the new Bancroft helped alleviate some of our overcrowding. I am thrilled that West Elementary is progressing in the MSBA process of building a new school and I hope to be able to help in that process over the next few years. The new school will benefit the entire community."
FRANKS: "Probably one of the biggest changes is how fully technology has been integrated into daily education. Our students are truly digital natives – unlike 25 years ago. When I first started teaching at West in 1994 I used a chalkboard – with real chalk! Today, students have individual laptops and teachers draw from both traditional and digital resources to craft instruction."
Compare 25 or 34 years ago to today at your schools.
ROOS: "I have had the privilege to be involved in hiring over 90 percent of our faculty and I am impressed with their dedication and energy that's exhibited on a daily basis with our wonderful student body. In addition, West El has wonderful supportive families that are integrated into our school community."
FRANKS: "Even though education in general has changed a lot, one thing that has not changed is how kind our students are. Over the years we have had a lot of students involved in leadership and community service, and this really helps create a school climate that is positive and supportive."
What will you miss the most?
ROOS: "I will miss West Elementary faculty, students and community. I have spent well over half my life working at West and it has been a second home for me for all these years.This job has afforded me so much joy and fun that cannot ever be measured and I will miss the whole West El experience. I am an Andover resident and do not plan to go far so I hope to help out APS in any way."
FRANKS: "In addition to our students and their families, I will miss my extraordinary colleagues at West, friends in other schools, and the district-level administrative leadership team. Andover is incredibly lucky to have so many educators that put students at the center of every decision. I am incredibly lucky to have been part of this effort."