Top ANeSU executive to leave at end of year

BRISTOL — After 12 years as superintendent of the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANeSU), Evelyn Howard has said she will leave the post effective June 30, 2012.
According to Jeff Francis, executive director of the Vermont Superintendents Association, Howard’s tenure in the same district is the fifth-longest in the state. This number is based on 60 superintendents statewide with an average tenure of about four years.
Since Howard began her education career in 1968, as a kindergarten teacher in Montpelier, she’s shifted down a more administrative path. She worked in Lebanon, N.H., as an assistant superintendent for five years in the 1990s before taking on the superintendent’s position for the first time at ANeSU, in July of 2000. As she now departs ANeSU, she feels the district is in a good place; it’s just time for her to move on.
“This work is very intense, and it runs at a very high pace,” Howard said in an interview Tuesday. “It also periodically requires a new lens or new blood to support new ways of looking at things. I’m now of the age that I have some choices as to how I’m going to live out the rest of my life, and I need a little bit of a chance to look at that, and I think the system’s in a good place to possibly transition to a different mindset.”
Lanny Smith, chair of the ANeSU board and executive committee, was surprised to learn several months ago that Howard was planning to leave, but he said he’s thankful for her years of service.
“The one line I would always use about Evelyn Howard, having worked with her for the past (11) years, is that she is the consummate professional,” said Smith, who has been a school board member for about 20 years. “She’s maintained the six boards on a level keel, she’s given us some great direction, she’s unified the schools.”
For example, Smith pointed to the way Howard standardized the math programs of the five ANeSU elementary schools that feed students to Mount Abraham Union High School. This move, Smith said, put all students on a level playing field when they reached the high school.
“She’s been a wonderful asset as far as coordinating and making us a functional school district,” he added.
As the school district moves ahead with a new superintendent, Howard touts the power of unity as the supervisory union’s biggest asset.
“There’s incredible strength and power in joining forces and finding ways to do things together,” she said. “I think we should continue to explore exactly how we could better share the responsibility for educating kids: whether it’s programmatically, or through our financial system, or our food service system, whatever it is.”
Howard’s vision of sharing resources transcends supervisory union lines. She sees great possibilities in sharing resources and ideas across the county.
“I look across Addison County and I see three (main) high schools that have a great potential to create a countywide learning system for kids,” she said. “But we need to stop being so provincial about how things are done. We need to look for ways to combine our efforts, and I think we’ll create some better learning opportunities for kids as a result.”
The ANeSU board’s first step in hiring a new superintendent is to form a 15-person search committee, comprised of students, school board members, teachers, administrators, support staff and community members. Interested parties should contact Karen Wheeler (via phone at 453-3657, extension 20, or e-mail at [email protected]), and the board will make appointments to the search committee on Jan. 3.
Outside consultant Ray Proulx will lead the search committee. Proulx previously held the superintendent post in Barre and Essex and last year produced a report on the costs and benefits of consolidation in the Addison Central Supervisory Union.
“He is going to be our coordinator for (the search committee),” said Smith. “He has an extremely wonderful background that will be very helpful to us in making this whole thing happen.”
On Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mount Abe library, the ANeSU board will hold a community discussion about expectations, hopes and concerns in choosing a new superintendent. According to a letter from Smith to the community, this meeting is intended to help guide the search committee. By Feb. 3, the board hopes the committee can recommend a list of semifinalists; by Feb. 13, the board should’ve already selected finalists; and in March, the board anticipates a new superintendent will be hired.
 One thing this new superintendent will find at ANeSU, said Howard, is a close-knit group of supportive communities.
“These communities are very, very dedicated to their schools,” she said. “I just have been so very appreciative of having this opportunity. I’ve been surrounded by really great minds doing really great things, and I couldn’t have been in a better place. And I’m really, really thankful for that.”
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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