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Beeman seeking new principal as Flint moves to Mary Hogan Elementary

NEW HAVEN — The Addison Northeast Supervisory Union and the Beeman Elementary School board are in the midst of a mid-summer effort to replace Beeman Elementary Principal Steve Flint, who resigned in July to take a job in Middlebury.
ANeSU Superintendent David Adams said last Friday that the job had been posted since Flint first contacted him in mid-July. Seventeen applications have been received, and an interview committee was formed. The district hopes to invite candidates for interviews this week and hire within two weeks.
Flint, who served as Beeman’s principal for six years, has accepted a position at Mary Hogan Elementary School in Middlebury as a full-time Challenge teacher. He will teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics to students of all levels, with an additional focus on students “significantly above grade level standards,” according to Mary Hogan officials.
“In my six years at Beeman the work and role of principal has changed in many ways,” said Flint in an email to the Independent. “This has created some internal conflict with me wanting to spend more time in classrooms working with teachers and students, which has recently been increasingly difficult to do. When the position at Mary Hogan came open it seemed like a perfect match for me.”
Adams sees a good fit for Flint in that new role.
“If you’ve been around Steve, you know he loves to be around kids,” Adams said.
The change in the principal position at Beeman comes just after additional staffing and programming changes that recently occurred at the school, including the retirement of school counselor Kathy Nielson and nurse Sue Thibault and the departure this summer of enrichment director Julie Olson. She headed up Beeman’s community outreach programs, including a weekly mentoring program with dozens of Middlebury College students, and other extracurricular activities.
Adams said that a part-time nurse would be hired to replace Thibault, and that the school board had approved the hire of Meghan Cunningham-Rice for the counselor position. He said he anticipated Cunningham-Rice would take on some of Olson’s programming duties.
Beeman’s enrollment has remained relatively consistent, Adams said, though it has a very unusual disparity in age groups, which presents unique challenges. Adams estimated that of Beeman’s 104 students, one grade had fewer than 10 students.
Adams said that some challenges and changes at Beeman Elementary could be related to the school’s unusual lack of consistency in class size, as well as Beeman’s failure to earn the “Adequate Yearly Progress” state testing standard in the 2011-2012 academic year. The latter meant the school is currently designated to a two-year “improvement” stage under the Green Mountain Star Program.
Adequate Yearly Progress is a term of art derived under the national No Child Left Behind Act. NCLB, as it is known in education circles, asks schools to make demonstrable improvements at a rate that increases every two years with the eventual goal of 100 percent competency, Adams explained. Beeman had failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress in math two years ago, though it did meet all of its requirements during this past academic year. However, the school will remain within a “corrective action phase” prescribed by NCLB for one more year.
As for the assessment that the essence of the principal position at Beeman had changed in recent years, Adams also attributed that sentiment to the school’s “corrective action” status.
“For a principal that hasn’t been in an accountability system it can be quite challenging,” Adams said.
A group of approximately 15 community members met with the school board, the interview committee and the superintendent last Wednesday night to discuss characteristics that they hoped the committee would look for in candidates for principal throughout the hiring process.
Some of those traits included professionalism, accessibility and communication skills.
Also guiding last Wednesday’s discussion were the results of a survey by school board chair Brad Bull that garnered 40 responses. Adams noted that the respondents emphasized the value of town-school partnerships and community partnership in particular.
Flint said he was certain that those values would keep the school moving in the right direction for its students.
“While I am so excited about the new position and opportunity, I will sorely miss the Beeman community,” Flint said. “It has been such a rewarding experience for me and I have learned a lot from the Beeman staff, who continue to inspire me. I have every expectation that, despite the many changes happening in our school, the staff and students will have a tremendous year learning and working together. Knowing the staff the way I do, they won’t allow for anything else to happen.”

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