Mascenic School District

Kelly back at high school as principal

NEW IPSWICH — After a year away, former Assistant Principal Tom Kelly will be returning to Mascenic High School — this time as principal.

Following a closed session of the School Board on Monday night, the board voted to offer the principal position to Kelly, according to School Board Chair Jeff Salmonson. Kelly’s former positions within the school district weighed heavily in his favor, putting him over the top of the other finalist candidate for the position, Rick Barnes, who currently serves as the assistant principal at Hollis-Brookline High School.

“The principal search committee did a fantastic job bringing forward two excellent candidates,” said Salmonson. “Either candidate would have been a good principal at Mascenic. After much deliberation, well into evening, we selected Tom Kelly. A big factor was his previous outstanding performance as assistant principal at Mascenic,” said Salmonson in an interview Wednesday. “He was a known entity to the board.”

Kelly left the school in 2012 to take a position as a Uniserv Director for the National Education Association in New Hampshire, where he served as an advisor for teacher and paraprofessional associations. Before filling that roll, he was the Assistant Principal at Mascenic from 2010 until 2012.

Along with his prior experience with the district, Salmonson said that the other major factor was Kelly’s leadership qualities.

Before becoming an educator, Kelly served with the New York City Police Department, working through the ranks of officer, sergeant, lieutenant and captain. Prior to that, he was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, leaving the service with the rank of captain.

“We were looking for strong leadership to move staff and curriculum ahead,” said Salmonson. “Tom had those leadership qualities, based on different positions throughout his careers, whether in the police, military, or as assistant principal at Mascenic. He was really strong in the leadership category, which is what we were looking for — a leader.”

During his tenure at Mascenic, Kelly was instrumental in implementing some of Mascenic’s alternative learning programs, including a partnership with Warwick Mills, a defense contractor in New Ipswich, and an internship program for students with the local district courts. He was also in charge of forging a partnership between Mascenic High School and Daniel Webster College for Mascenic students interested in a career in aviation to have access to college credit courses.

Prior to being assistant principal, Kelly taught social studies at Mascenic, and acted as the chair of the social studies department. In that roll, Kelly gained experience in writing curriculum, redoing the social studies curriculum at the high school in 2006.

Some of key issues being addressed at Mascenic right now include determining the best scheduling configuration for the high school, whether the district will continue with block scheduling, the best way to evaluate teachers and how to improve performance, said Salmonson.

The district is currently in negotiations with Kelly concerning salary and benefits, Salmonson said.

Kelly will be taking over the position of principal at the conclusion of this school year, on July 1, replacing the current principal, Trevor Courtney. On the same date, the district will be replacing the current interim superintendent, Betsey Cox-Buteau, with her permanent replacement, Ruthann Goguin. With the changeover in leadership of both the district and the high school, the district will be holding strategic planning sessions during the summer to determine a unified course for the district, said Salmonson.

The School Board will meet next on June 3 at 6 p.m. in the Mascenic Education Center in Greenville.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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