Principal of an Oregon high school hired as ACSU superintendent
MIDDLEBURY — The Addison Central Supervisory Union Board on Wednesday evening offered the job of superintendent to Peter Burrows, principal of Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore., and Burrows accepted.
Burrows will replace Superintendent Gail Conley, who will retire at the end of June.
The offer and acceptance came after Burrows and a second finalist for the job, Winton I. Goodrich, assistant superintendent of the South Burlington School District, met with the public for a Q&A at Middlebury Union High School, and were interviewed separated by the ACSU board — all on Wednesday.
The ACSU board interviewed Goodrich first, then Burrows. Board members then discussed the candidates in executive session.
Mark Perrin, chairman of the ACSU board and member of the recruitment committee, informed the Addison Independent of Burrows' acceptance a little after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
This is the ACSU’s fourth effort in almost two years to hire a new superintendent. Conley, who was retired, initially agreed to take the job for just the 2011-2012 academic year, succeeding Superintendent Lee Sease, whose contract was not renewed. But Conley agreed to serve until July 1 of this year after attempts to find a new chief executive last year failed.
Mostly recently (in December), Burlington School District Superintendent Jeanne M. Collins and John W. Johnson, director of education information services for the state of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, interviewed for the job. Neither ultimately accepted the post, with Collins specifically citing concerns about the number of boards (nine) and meetings with which the ACSU superintendent must currently contend — a hardship ACSU officials are now seeking to remedy. A governance consolidation study is under way.
Addison Central Supervisory Union includes the elementary schools in Middlebury, Bridport, Cornwall, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge, as well as Middlebury Union middle and high schools.
Perrin said around a dozen candidates emerged during this latest search. The recruitment committee met with around seven of them, with Burrows and Goodrich making the final cut.
Goodrich, Perrin noted, already knows his way around Vermont’s public education system. Prior to becoming assistant superintendent in the South Burlington School District, he served as associate director of the Vermont School Boards Association, during which time his accomplishments included developing and managing more than 100 school governance studies and strategic planning processes and creating a Superintendent Search Guide that the VSBA markets to school districts. He also served stints as executive director of the Vermont Chamber Business-Education Partnership, assistant and interim principal at Peoples Academy in Morrisville, a teacher and coach in Montpelier public schools, a business consultant, and an auxiliary trooper with the Vermont State Police.
In a cover letter announcing his candidacy, Goodrich notes his experience in many school governance merger studies and how that background could be valuable in the ACSU’s current effort in that area.
Meanwhile, Burrows’ experience includes a combination of international flair along with leading a large public school.
Willamette High School serves 1,550 students, with a focus he describes as being on “student achievement; college and career readiness; and student, school and community engagement.”
His resume includes stints as assistant principal and teacher at Willamette High School; as a teacher at Sisters High School and Middle School, primarily in English and language arts; and as a teacher and designer of English and other courses at universities in South Korea, Mexico, Japan and India. He also served as an English teacher at the Intensive English Institute in Brattleboro, from January through August of 1999.
“Over the last five years, I have had the opportunity to lead a large, comprehensive high school through considerable fiscal challenges, and have learned a significant amount regarding school leadership,” Burrows, who grew up in New England, wrote in his cover letter. “I have taken a systems-approach to my work, and am particularly focused on assuring that we move from ‘pockets of excellence’ to a school that serves all students. To this end, I have focused on key areas that I believe are essential to student success: (a) a strong instructional framework with explicit learning targets and formative assessment practices, (b) a learning environment that supports and motivates student learning, and (c) a school community that is engaged in the success of each student. I believe that all students are capable of significant learning.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].