Bridport, Cornwall choose new principals

ADDISON COUNTY — Bridport and Cornwall will each welcome new elementary school principals this summer, and neither incoming leader will have a long way to travel to get to their respective jobs.
Addison Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Peter Burrows confirmed this week the appointments of Jennefer Eaton as principal of Bridport Central School, and Jennifer Kravitz as the new leader of Cornwall’s Bingham Memorial School.
Eaton, a Fair Haven resident, has served as dean of students and director of athletics at Middlebury Union Middle School since July of 2012. She will take over for Bonnie Bourne and Tracey Harrington, who are co-managing Bridport Central through the current academic year.
Kravitz, a 36-year-old Shoreham resident, has taught social studies at Rutland High School since 2006. She will succeed Abi Sessions, the interim principal at the Bingham Memorial School.
“(Kravitz) brings considerable experience in teaching and innovation and a real drive to make a difference,” Burrows said of the new Cornwall school hire. “Her vision to engage the entire Cornwall community in both continuing the great work happening at Bingham Memorial while pursuing ways to provide greater experiences for our students will provide a strong foundation as we move forward in ACSU.”
Having recently received her certification to become a school administrator, Kravitz was looking for a good match for her first leadership assignment. She found that match in the Bingham Memorial School.
“It was really the sense of community that I had actually read about in the Addison Independent, and having talked to people about the school even before applying,” Kravitz said on Tuesday. “That sense of community, of taking care of each other and working together, was so clear.”
Further investigation by Kravitz revealed what she said is a strong group of committed staff and teachers.
“I also really liked the idea that (staff and teachers) listen to the students’ ideas on how to improve the school; that’s something that I really believe in and is something that is great to already see in place,” Kravitz said.
Cornwall provides Kravitz with an easier commute, though she hasn’t really minded her current trek from Shoreham to Rutland. Her husband, Erik Remsen, a former UD-3 representative from Shoreham, also teaches in Rutland. They have two young daughters.
“Having the much shorter commute will just be an added bonus,” Kravitz said.
She looks forward to setting some specific goals for the school once she officially joins the crew. She plans to include many people in setting those goals.
“The first thing that makes sense to me is … working with the community, staff, teachers, parents and students to set a clear vision for where we want Bingham Memorial School to be in five or seven years, so that we can use that as a guiding document for all the changes we would be making,” Kravitz said. “That should inform everything else that we do.”
Kravitz also recognizes there might be some special challenges in leading one of the smaller schools in the ACSU. Bingham Memorial counted 77 students at the beginning of this academic year. Schools throughout the county, and the state, are seeing a declining enrollment.
During a recent day-long visit at Bingham Memorial, Kravitz observed professionals and students content with the personalized attention that a small school setting can provide. But she also recognizes that the numbers could reach a point where the community might have to make some tough decisions based on economics or new state laws that are being considered at the Vermont Statehouse this session.
“I don’t know where policy is going to go, but I will take it one year at a time — at least at this point,” she said.
Meanwhile, Eaton is looking forward to making her mark at Bridport Central.
“I’m very excited,” Eaton said of her appointment. “Now the tricky part will be to balance my focus on my current position at (MUMS) and to also start getting myself as prepared as possible for Bridport and next year.”
Eaton, 42, will join Bridport Elementary with a strong administrative background and a solid teaching résumé. Prior to joining MUMS two and a half years ago, Eaton had served as a teacher and team leader at the Fair Haven Graded School from 2003 to 2012. Like Kravitz, Eaton believes she is now ready to take the reins of a school and is pleased to be doing it in Bridport.
“The day I went to the school, it was so welcoming,” Eaton said, referring to the vibe she got from the teachers, students, staff, board members and community members. “I’m so excited.”
Eaton will enjoy a relatively smooth transition from one ACSU school (MUMS) to another.
“I really like this supervisory union,” Eaton said. “I like the direction in which it is headed and I like the leadership. Superintendent Burrows is a fantastic leader and is forward-thinking. He is great with the ‘big picture’ and overall vision of how to move things forward. I have no desire to leave this supervisory union.”
Having grown up in Vermont, Eaton has grown accustomed to small schools and appreciates the educational opportunities that come within such a setting working with young children.
“I am excited about getting to know the students and getting to know their families and being able to work together,” she said.
“My goal is to be at Bridport for a number of years.”
Eaton’s two sons are students at Fair Haven Union High School. She will thus remain a Fair Haven resident and make the commute to Bridport.
“They are tried and true Slaters,” Eaton said of her sons.
Asked about her initial game plan, Eaton said she wants to meet with the various stakeholders of the school community to get a sense of specific educational services or programs that need improvement.
 “I have a lot of learning and listening to do. It takes time to learn your kids and your community.”
Burrows believes Eaton will do a good job.
“(Eaton) brings a considerable wealth of understanding and experience in school leadership,” he said. “Jen has a deep commitment to learning and student success as has been evidenced in her work with MUMS students. Her collaborative and thoughtful approach will be essential as we work together to support all students at the Bridport school.”

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