Search for new ACSD principals narrows

Community members this week can meet principal candidates for the elementary schools in Cornwall, shown here, Bridport and Shoreham. Independent file photo

MIDDLEBURY — Addison Central School District leaders have screened all the applicants for impending principal vacancies at the Bridport, Cornwall and Shoreham elementary schools, and have adopted a vetting process that would result in new hires being announced by early next month.

The district will offer students, their families and school staff a chance to meet the principal candidates at meet-and-greet events this coming Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The vetting process will involve interim Superintendent Tim Williams, incoming Superintendent Wendy Baker, a nine-person ACSD Principal Screening Committee, and stakeholders from each of the three school communities.

The new principals will succeed Heather Raabe, leader of Cornwall’s Bingham Memorial Elementary School, and Matthew Brankman, who’s helmed both the Bridport and Shoreham Elementary Schools this year — with key support from Asst. Principal Jennifer Urban.

A “principal hiring update” emailed to the Bridport, Cornwall and Shoreham communities confirmed the selection process kicked off on May 6, when Baker met with staff at the three schools “to understand the characteristics and skills that each school community hoped to find in a leader.”

Baker, Williams and Assistant Superintendent Nicole Carter recently screened the applicants and forwarded “a strong pool of viable candidates with a positive leadership record” to the Principal Screening Committee, which includes educators from all three schools, along with ACSD Director of Teaching & Learning Courtney Krahn, and ACSD Director of Communications & Engagement Emily Blistein.

The committee on May 9 and 10 held initial conversations with the candidates and forwarded those who they believed would be a good fit for the three schools seeking leaders.

Plans now call for the public to be brought into the candidate evaluation process — at a series of “meet and greets” to be held May 15-17. Each school will conduct 90-minute visits with each candidate, involving students, staff and families. The school will send out emails to the school community with details on the principal candidate visits. Other community members who don’t get the email can call the schools.

“It could be as many as six or seven candidates, which means there may be six to seven different opportunities for you to meet with candidates over the course of three days,” according to the principal hiring update. “We know this is tricky to schedule, but we invite you to attend as many as possible. We are also brainstorming a way for the candidate to offer an introduction that every community member can view.”

The update made no mention of names or any other identifying information for the candidates who’ve advanced in the evaluation process. A school official pointed out that the school community will receive the names of the candidates in advance and compared it to the search for a Middlebury Union High School principal search last year, when the district named the three finalists when inviting the public to meet them.

The official pointed out that the school community — including parents and staff — will know the three elementary school principal candidates’ names in advance, have an opportunity to meet them in person and on Zoom, and provide direct feedback about them to the superintendent.

Following the May 15-17 meet and greets, “school and community members will have the opportunity to share feedback via a form that will be sent to everyone,” the search update reads. “Based on all collected feedback, the superintendent’s office will negotiate with candidates to ensure good matches between leaders and buildings.”

All of this is designed to culminate in the announcement of three new principals in late May or early June, according to district officials.

Any questions about the search should be emailed to Krahn, at [email protected], or Blistein, at [email protected], or by calling 802-382-1274.

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