RNeSU chief to leave for Newport
BRANDON — Rutland Northeast Superintendent John Castle is heading home.
The 49-year-old is leaving RNeSU in June for Newport’s North Country Supervisory Union, which encompasses Castle’s hometown. He will take the superintendent reins from Robert Kern, who is retiring after seven years.
Castle relocated from his hometown of Holland, Vt., five years ago to become the superintendent at RNeSU after longtime supervisory union head Bill Mathis retired in 2009.
The move, announced this week, will come as a surprise to many in the Rutland Northeast community, and Castle is the first to say he had no plans to leave RNeSU. But the opportunity to head up to his home supervisory union was too great an opportunity to pass up, he said.
“I have no reason to want to leave,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I’ve enjoyed my time here and I’ve learned so much. It really is because of my deep connection to family and a long-standing connection to the community up there that I’ve worked in and been a part of.”
Castle grew up in Holland and was the teaching principal at Holland Elementary School for five years when he was tapped to succeed Mathis at RNeSU.
Castle has faced a number of challenges during his tenure at Rutland Northeast. There was the resignation of former Lothrop Elementary Principal Greg West in January 2013 and an open records request a year later that revealed that West had apparently violated the school’s harassment policy.
There was also the controversial and lengthy discussion with parents over the idea of moving the Caverly Preschool into the Lothrop Elementary School building. After 18 months of heated school board meetings and exploratory committee recommendations, the board voted in January to keep the preschool where it is off Plains Road in Pittsford. Just before that decision, Pittsford School Board Chair Roberta Enright resigned for personal reasons.
Back in 2010, Castle and the Otter Valley Union High School board weighed the financial concerns with funding Foxcroft Farm’s hands-on alternative education Harvest Program. Parents protested loudly and came out in support of the program, and the OV board voted to keep the program, with changes. But school administrators and Harvest eventually agreed to part ways and now Harvest operates as an independent nonprofit.
Castle chalks all of that up to experience.
“There have been a lot of learning opportunities along the way,” he said, adding that he considers Rutland Northeast to be one of the best supervisory unions in the state.
“In many ways, this is an ideal supervisory union in the way it works and its culture, and I will miss that,” he said. “The staff and the parents, the teachers and principals, the students, they have just been wonderful. I’ve had the blessing of working with dedicated and talented people, which makes this job easier and enjoyable.”
Castle is largely responsible for the culture he has created within RNeSU. When asked what he is most proud of, he turns to “The Compact,” an in-depth, multilayered action plan that identifies the opportunities, goals, attributes and resources that the supervisory union and its employees have been implementing in each school.
The Compact is driven by four elements that Castle said have driven his career since he was a students, then a teacher in Holland: The Four Cs — Character, Competence, Creativity and Community.
“The Compact is a living and dynamic framework that will continue to move the supervisory union forward in a positive way,” Castle said. “I hope I’ve fostered a culture of positive improvement. For an SU, creating the right culture and capacity is the most important thing. We exist to serve the schools, not the other way around.”
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