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Three finalists for Bristol Elementary principal job to visit Thursday

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Unified School District is considering three finalists for the post of principal at Bristol Elementary School, and the BES community will get a chance to meet them this week.

One homegrown candidate and two from midwestern states will visit the school on Thursday, March 3, to meet with faculty, staff and students. That evening, between 5 and 7:30 p.m., the finalists will be available to speak with community members, who will be asked to share their thoughts afterward via online survey.

A schedule of events and meetings can be found on the MAUSD website at tinyurl.com/schedBES.

The winning candidate will begin work on July 1, succeeding Interim Principal David Wells, who was appointed last May to serve for the 2021-22 school year.

MAUSD began the principal search in January with an online survey seeking input from the community about what characteristics it would most like to see in a new administrator.

Respondents emphasized communication, classroom experience, a long-term commitment to the school and advocating for students, families and staff, Reen told the Independent.

The survey results align with many of the concerns raised by the community over the past few months as the school struggled with student behavioral issues, overtaxed teachers, angry parents and learning disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Other schools and school districts in Vermont and nationwide have also been struggling in recent years.

The MAUSD has responded by adding staff and increasing budgets for student supports, among other things.

But even before this year Bristol Elementary had struggled to retain its top administrators. The school’s next principal will be its fourth in five years.

The finalists for the job were chosen from a pool of nine applicants, Reen said.

Jonathan Bratko of Naperville, Ill., has more than seven years of teaching experience and has served as an assistant principal for one year.

Joshua Tebo of Shawano, Wisc., has nearly 20 years of teaching experience, in addition to serving three years as an athletic/aquatics director.

Justin Bouvier of Bristol has four years of teaching experience and more than five years of administrative experience, including his current role as assistant principal of Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School.

Bouvier has been a finalist for BES principal once before, in 2016. The district, then known as the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, ultimately chose Kevin Robinson, who went on to serve in the role for three years.

The BES Search Committee, which will make the final recommendation, consists of 10 members: the superintendent, a classroom teacher, an administrative assistant, a community member, a school board member, an instructional coach, an interventionist, a special educator, a building principal and a guidance counselor, Reen said.

The committee is hoping to make a final decision by mid-March.

For more information about each of the candidates, including their cover letters and their vision for a successful school, visit tinyurl.com/BESfinalists.

Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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