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Mount Abe principal to take a new job

BRISTOL — Mount Abraham Union High School Principal Gaynell Lyman is leaving her position after only one year in order to accept a job with Advanced Learning Partnerships (ALP), a consulting agency that helps schools nationwide adopt technology plans and teaching innovations.
It is a job that she will begin in August and will require her to travel extensively outside of Vermont, visiting teachers and administrators at schools that have commissioned ALP’s services. She has previous experience with the company as a subcontractor consulting at schools in such states as North Carolina and Texas. She will be a member of ALP teams that will go to schools to help them implement their improvement goals and follow up with clients electronically following visits.
As reported in the June 4 edition of the Addison Independent, the Mount Abe school board has launched a search for an interim principal to take the reins for the 2015-2016 academic year. The board on June 2 accepted Lyman’s resignation “with regret.” The board is looking for a citizen to serve on the search committee.
“We are grateful for her enthusiasm, energy and knowledge that allowed us to continue to move forward with the vision for Mt. Abraham,” MAUHS board Chairwoman Dawn Griswold said of Lyman. “From the beginning, Gaynell worked to understand that vision and our goals and plans with great effort. That in turn led Mt. Abe to achieving continued progress for its students. We are fortunate to have had her leading our school for the last year and we wish her continued success on her new journey.”
Lyman, 43, knew she was well-suited to the ALP consulting job. In addition to having had past experience with the company, her résumé includes work as a science teacher and as an instructional technology resource educator in public schools in the Henrico, Va., school district. She was serving as associate principal of Douglas S. Freeman High School (in Henrico) prior to accepting the Mount Abe principalship in 2014.
“I’ve got 12 years of experience (in technology/innovation) as well as experience in school leadership, so that will be a nice balance that will allow me to work with teachers and administrators,” Lyman said. “I imagine a lot of my coaching will be directly with math and science teachers.”
Lyman stressed she wasn’t actively seeking employment elsewhere, and acknowledges the timing of her departure is not good for Mount Abraham. It comes at a time when prospective replacements are already committed to other jobs, and also coincides with the school board’s third attempt to pass a 2015-2016 MAUHS operating budget. That proposed spending plan of almost $14 million will be fielded on Tuesday, June 9, by residents in the Addison Northeast-member towns of Bristol, New Haven, Starksboro, Monkton and Lincoln.
“I wasn’t looking for the job; the job found me,” Lyman said. “It was an opportunity to take a full-time position that I hadn’t been offered before. It is something I had always wanted to do … When the offer came, it was something I couldn’t pass up. I’m kind of chasing a dream.”
That dream, Lyman said, is a job that gives her “the ability to refine my skills and use a very tight skill-set. I don’t have to be a master of all trades. I get to focus on the skills and the passions that I have, which makes it pretty appealing.”
While Lyman is excited to take on a new professional challenge, she leaves Mount Abe with some regrets.
“It’s been fabulous working with the students and teachers here,” she said. “It was a very welcome and open learning environment to come into. The teachers here have been doing great work for a long time, and it was very exciting to be part of that work.”
Mount Abe, she added, “should be proud of how far ahead we are of a lot of schools, not just in Vermont, but across the country.” Lyman specifically cited personalized learning, competency work and proficiency learning as three areas in which Mount Abe excels.
She’ll also miss direct dealings with students.
“The best part is interacting with students, and watching their growth over time,” Lyman said, “and to see the excitement teachers have when their students are successful.
“I have been in a lot of schools, and we are eons ahead,” she added.
She will not miss the recent budget impasse.
“I think it’s tough, in terms of morale,” Lyman said. “We’d like to be able to make some decisions and move forward with some certainty, and I am confident that will be able to happen soon. The board has worked very closely with me to make sure we have a solid budget.”
While Lyman will be leaving Mount Abraham, she has no plans (for now) to leave the Green Mountain State, where her roots run deep. She was born in Bennington and raised in Newport. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Vermont in 1993. Lyman, her husband and their two children live in Bristol.
“For now, we are going to plan to stay in Bristol,” Lyman said. “We’ll see how travel looks like, how easy it is to get out in the middle of the winter. But the plan right now is to stay where we are.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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