Welcome Letter from SWMS Principal

Welcome Letter from SWMS Principal
Posted on 08/13/2021

Dear South~West Middle School Staff, Students, Families, and Community members,

It is an honor to introduce myself as the new principal of South~West Middle School and to join this extraordinary school community. I hope that this note finds you enjoying the relaxing and rejuvenating days of summer and that you and your children are looking forward to beginning a wonderful school year together in September. I can assure you that I share in this school community’s commitment to caring for your children each and every day while providing them a world-class learning environment. I am thrilled to have students physically back in our classrooms. I, along with our staff, eagerly await laughter, energy, and enthusiasm for learning. 

I come to South~West as a former middle school special educator in a classroom of students with social-emotional needs and challenges, a former middle school ELA teacher, and a former middle school Vice Principal. But, in addition to these roles as an educator, I am also a father and a husband. In September, my son begins Third Grade and my daughter begins Kindergarten - this will also be when my son gets to put his ‘’big brother’’ skills to the test because they will be in the same school for the first time together! They also attend the same elementary school that I attended as a child which is very exciting and surreal for me as a parent. 

This upcoming school year will be my fifteenth as an educator. I graduated from Westfield State College with a Bachelor’s Degree, then completed my Masters at American International College, and have recently begun an Educational Leadership Program at Harvard University. My first year teaching was in Seoul, South Korea, which was a truly life-changing experience for me and my philosophy towards education. Since then, I have always worked in urban middle schools and this has become my passion and life’s work. Although I have always felt at home in the classroom, it will be my position as a principal where I will continue this passion. This principalship provides me the chance to work collaboratively with teachers on a daily basis, while also remaining connected to students learning and growing in the classroom. I firmly believe that every child can excel and that the partnership between home and school builds confidence in students to use their powers to shape their future and the future of our community. 

To our students, I cannot wait to meet you all! I hope that you are excited for this coming school year and that you are out this summer playing and reading tons of books with your family and friends. It is going to be a fun year learning together. If you are nearby the school at all this summer, please stop by and say hello!

In closing, please know that my door is always open to you. I warmly welcome your conversation and positive input throughout this year. Let us always keep our students the primary focus of our work. I look forward to celebrating our collective successes during the 2021-2022 school year.  Enjoy the remaining days of summer!


Derek C. Lakey

Principal, South~West Middle School