District hires new  elementary principal

WILTON — The Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District has decided on a new leader for its two elementary schools — and it is neither Sue Tussing nor Ken Griffin, the administrators who currently hold elementary principal positions in the district.

The district has named Tim O’Connell of Milford for a newly created principal position that will administer both Florence Rideout Elementary School and Lyndeborough Central School. O’Connell will officially assume the position Monday . O’Connell was chosen from among a pool of candidates, School Board Chair Geoff Brock said in an interview Tuesday.

Nearly 30 candidates applied, and a community-based committee whittled that down to five finalists. Tussing and Griffin were both among the finalists for the position, said Brock, but the board ultimately chose to go in a new direction with O’Connell.

O’Connell is currently serving in the Winchendon School District in Massachusetts, as the principal of Memorial School. Brock said the decision to hire him mostly came down to the board finding O’Connell’s style to the best choice for the district. “The board felt that Tim’s talents and strengths suited what we have to get done over the next couple of years,” Brock said. “It was the proverbial better fit.”

Some of those issues include repairs or replacement of facilities at the Florence Rideout Elementary School, and aligning the district’s two elementary school curriculums. .

In an interview Wednesday, O’Connell said he has experience in both facilities and curriculum upgrades . Prior to serving as principal in Winchendon, he was a principal in Hollis Brookline School District , where he helped facilitate the building of the Samuel Douglas Academy. He has been through renovations of his current school, too. He’s also had experience with curriculum alignment, bringing Memorial School in line with the common core curriculum in Massachusetts.

O’Connell said he doesn’t have experience administering more than one school at a time, and anticipates there will be challenges in making sure that both schools have a significant principal presence. He said he will be coming up with a comprehensive plan after meeting with the staff at both schools and determining the needs of each. He does anticipate splitting his time evenly between both schools, he said.

O’Connell resided in Wilton from 2001 to 2009. “I love the school, I love the town, I know a lot of people in town and have connections there. I’m excited to start,” he said.

In an interview Wednesday, Tussing said that while she was disappointed not to have retained her position, she thought O’Connell would serve the district well. “I think if they had chosen Ken [Griffin] or myself they would have been one step ahead, because we have experience with at least one of the schools and the district,” Tussing said.

But, she added, O’Connell will be coming into the district with a fresh perspective and an unbiased attitude, which may be to the district’s benefit. “He has experience as principal, and he seems like a very open and friendly person. I think he’ll work out very nicely for the district,” Tussing said of O’Connell.

Tussing has worked in the WLC School District for 16 years, and is at retirement age. She said she will likely be seeking a part-time or full-time administrative position , and will be seeking opportunities outside of the sphere of education. “Even in business, I could apply my administrative skills, or with a nonprofit,” Tussing said. “I think it’s an opportunity to look for something different to do.”

Griffin did not return a call requesting comment by press time Wednesday.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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