Education News

Lenox to step down as Shoreham principal

SHOREHAM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Principal Michael Lenox recently announced he’ll be stepping down in June to pursue another job in education that calls for more direct interaction with students.
Photo courtesy of Michael Lenox

SHOREHAM — Shoreham Elementary School Principal Michael Lenox will step down at the end of this academic year in order to find another job that will give him more direct interaction with students.

“This whole year I’ve been exploring the thought of what’s the right fit for me, and also what’s the right fit for the community,” Lenox said during an interview. “I definitely feel like after eight years, the school can benefit from someone who can take it in a different direction.

“Now is the right time to pass the baton,” he added.

In 2014 Lenox was named top administrator of the school, succeeding Principal Heather Best.

Before coming to Shoreham, Lenox had worked for six years teaching music in Rutland intermediate and middle schools, and he taught music at Fair Haven Union High School for four years.

To say it’s been an eventful eight years in Shoreham would be an understatement.

Lenox’s tenure has coincided with sweeping changes within the Addison Central School District. Lenox didn’t spearhead any of those major events, but he and his colleagues continue to grapple with their considerable implications. The changes have included:

  • Transition to an International Baccalaureate curriculum, or IB.

“One of the things I heard from people is there’s not enough collaboration among teachers, and IB has really helped provide a structure to have those strong learning communities come together,” Lenox said. “And we’ve got a clear, articulated curriculum that’s being driven by best practices.”

  • A move (beginning last fall) to send all ACSD sixth-graders to Middlebury Union Middle School. This downsized all seven of the district’s elementary schools to preK-5.

Lenox, without hesitation, said he believes moving the sixth-graders to MUMS was the right move.

“We’ve only done it for one year, but I would say sixth-graders are middle school students; they are developmentally middle school students,” he said. “I think it allows us to be able to focus on the kids’ developmental age appropriately, having fifth grade be the top grade here.

“It was an interesting time period (during a pandemic) when we did the move, but I think over time we’re all going to be really glad that sixth grade is at the middle school,” he added.

  • Adoption of a unified governance structure through Act 46, which saw ACSD move to a system whereby all nine of its schools are governed by a single board, presiding over a global education budget.

Then there was the change that no one could have predicted: The COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus forced public schools to switch to virtual learning, then to a hybrid model, then back to an all in-person model (with face coverings). Thanks to dwindling case numbers and guidance from the CDC, many Vermont public schools lifted the face mask mandate at the end of February.

“It was challenging for everyone,” Lenox said. “Everyone in education and outside of education has been asked to be heroes these past couple of years. I wouldn’t say being a principal during this time was any more challenging than anything anyone else was asked to do. I think everyone would agree that the past few years have been complicated.”

If there was a silver lining to the pandemic for Lenox — who himself contracted and conquered the virus early this month —  “it helped everyone focus on what’s important for supporting students and families,” he said. “You saw the whole community come together to make sure that people had what they needed.”

While Lenox is keen on leaving the principal’s office, he has no regrets for having served in that capacity. The job afforded him the ability to make a difference in school operations and to chart the progress of children as they climbed the grade levels.

“I’ve enjoyed seeing the kids grow up and develop over time,” he said. “Something that’s very neat about being an elementary school principal is the kids come in at age 5, and then they’re starting to head off into adolescence and into the middle school years. That’s a lot of time you get to work with the students and their families. Those connections are going to be what I remember the most and will feel most proud of.”

Peter Burrows, ACSD superintendent, said Lenox made his mark on Shoreham Elementary during his time at the helm.

“Mike Lenox has led Shoreham with great kindness and connection,” he said. “He has been such an active part of the community, and has worked in his role as principal to support students, staff, and community in celebrating student learning and success throughout Shoreham. Mike has always been ready to help out and pitch in, no matter what the need might be. We are grateful for the many years of service he’s given to our community.”

Lenox is unsure where he’ll land following his departure from Shoreham. He’ll check out the opportunities and send out resumés. In the meantime, he’ll finish out his contract and spend some quality time on Lake Bomoseen, flipping lures at inquisitive fish.

Regardless of where he goes, he’ll bring fond memories of Shoreham.

“I feel really fortunate to have spent eight years working as the Shoreham principal.”

The ACSD is seeking a few Shoreham parents to serve on the principal hiring committee. If you live in Shoreham and are interested, complete the form at tinyurl.com/2p92tkdm. The committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday, May 3, at 5:15 p.m.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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