BERKSHIRE — Sports and school spirit have always been part of education for incoming Berkshire Elementary and Middle School Principal Leonard Badeau.

Badeau, who originally dreamed of playing professional hockey, came to realize education was a field in which he could have a major impact on people’s lives.

Badeau, 32, of Milton, is only a few weeks into his two-year contract at Berkshire, taking over for former principal Lynn Cota, who took over as Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union superintendent this year.

Before this, he served as the principal at Folsom Education and Community Center in South Hero for one year and four years as a humanities teacher at Milton Middle School. He became a certified teacher and taught his first years in Louisville, Ky.

Badeau was raised in Marshfield, Vt., a town with many similarities to Berkshire, including truckers, tractors and small schools, he said. “In that sense I feel like I may not be from here, but I’m cut from the same cloth,” he explained.

During his childhood years, Badeau bounced around in school, chasing his dream of being a professional hockey player.

He attended Twinfield Union School for elementary and middle school before committing to Rice High School in South Burlington in order to be on a high school hockey team. He switched schools once again a few years later, heading off to prep school Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass, to increase his chances at collegiate hockey.

These educational opportunities were due in large part to scholarships, according to Badeau. “Our family went bankrupt when I was in seventh grade,” he said. “I experienced what it’s like to not have money.”

Badeau said he was keenly aware of the fact that if he wanted to attend Tabor, he needed a scholarship because his parents were “scratching pennies together” to send him to Rice as it was.

But a good word from former Middlebury College hockey coach Bill Beaney landed him a spot and scholarship at Tabor and later, their relationship continued when Badeau joined the Middlebury team.

To learn more about Berkshire’s new principal pick up a copy Tuesday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.