UPDATED: MUHS Principal Justin Campbell quits

MUHS PRINCIPAL JUSTIN Campbell at last June’s graduation ceremony.
Addison Independent file photo

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury Union High School Principal Justin Campbell resigned Monday, effective immediately.

After being on the job two and a half years, Campbell has built positive relationships with students, teachers and parents, according to his colleagues.

MUHS drivers ed teacher George Rooney compared the mood of a teachers’ meeting following the Campbell announcement to a funeral service.

“I always enjoyed working with him,” said Rooney, who is a representative of the Addison Central Education Association teachers’ union. “It felt like I was working with him, not for him.”

Campbell himself was somewhat vague on his reasons for leaving. He announced his decision through a two short paragraphs in an email to the school community that arrived at 3:50 p.m. on Monday:

“After much contemplation, many conversations with family and some deep introspection, I have decided to resign my position as MUHS principal. I have enjoyed my time as an educator but I’m ready for a different challenge that helps me to better balance all aspects of my life.

“It has been a deep honor to be part of the MUHS community and I will cherish the memories I’ve made. I will work with (Addison Central School District Superintendent Peter) Burrows and the MUHS team to assure a smooth transition,” he added. “Thank you for all the kindness and support the community has shown my family and me throughout our time here.”

The Independent could not reach Campbell directly.

ACSD Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Caitlin Steele stepped into the role of interim MUHS principal “for the time being,” according to Emily Blistein, the district’s director of communications and engagement.

Burrows acknowledged Campbell’s departure on Monday evening in an email to the MUHS community.

“We are incredibly grateful to Justin for the time he spent with us and the care and sense of community he created among the MUHS staff, students, and families,” the statement reads. “I know that this is a significant and unexpected change for our MUHS community.”

Campbell, 47, was picked for the MUHS job in February of 2020 — just as the COVID-19 virus was making its way into Addison County. He clinched the job when the only other finalist withdrew from consideration.

Campbell was principal of Hanover High School in New Hampshire from 2012-2019.

He’s a University of New Hampshire graduate, earning a Master of Education in 2009. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Bates College (1998) in Maine, and a teaching certification for chemistry, earned at the Upper Valley Educators Institute in Lebanon, N.H.

His résumé also includes stints as director of academic studies for the Milford (N.H.) School District (2009-2012), during which he supervised about 45 teachers. He coordinated curriculum revisions and planned professional development, among other things.

Prior to that, he served as an assistant principal for the Milford School District (2007-2009), overseeing the implementation of education plans for struggling students. He joined the Milford district in 2001 as a chemistry teacher.

Campbell also served as a volunteer commissioner with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, or NEASC.

He told the Independent back in 2020 that he learned of the MUHS job opportunity through a NEASC colleague. He became intrigued by the prospect of moving to Vermont and leading a public school with an International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Campbell’s resignation means the ACSD is in the market for three top administrators: a superintendent and principals for MUHS and Ripton Elementary School. The ACSD board initiated its superintendent search on Monday.

“Justin Campbell was a wonderful addition to the MUHS community, he greeted students at the front door almost every morning and knew most of the kids by first name. He was fully engaged in the life of the school and is a dedicated educator,” said Sarah Soule, and MUHS counselor, on Facebook. “In the short time he was at MUHS he quickly emerged as a standout leader, and he built a strong sense of family. I wish him well on his next venture, whatever that may be.”

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

This story has been updated since it was originally published on January 23.

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