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Jaffrey-Rindge hires both principal finalists 

  • Brett Blanchard is set to become the Conant High School/Jaffrey-Rindge Middle school principal.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Conant High School teacher David Dustin has been named the middle/high school’s assistant principal of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 3:8PM

The Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School District will add both middle/high school principal finalists to the administrative team.

The district’s school board unanimously accepted the nomination of Brett Blanchard to become the middle/high school principal during a meeting Monday night.

Blanchard previously served 11 years as the principal of Fair Haven Union High School in Vermont and seven years as dean of students at Poultney High School, also in Vermont. 

“For me, this is a tremendous thrill because I believe in the district’s vision,” said Blanchard, in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “At the community forum [on June 4] I felt there was a strong community belief in education. For me, it’s all about having a student-centered education.”

Conant High School social studies teacher David Dustin – the other finalist for the position – will also see a promotion, as the board accepted his nomination to become one of the middle/high school’s two assistant principals. Dustin will specifically oversee curriculum, instruction, and assessment, according to Superintendent Reuben Duncan.

“These decisions are in line with the feedback the district has received about both candidates throughout the process,” said Duncan, who said last week’s school board meeting was delayed so that community feedback from the recent meet and greet could be analyzed. “… We wanted to make sure all feedback was taken to heart.”

Community feedback painted Blanchard as a capable leader with a wealth of experience and an understanding of proficiency-based education – a model the district is currently transitioning towards. 

Dustin may not have the experience in administration that Blanchard has, but many people pointed out his passion and care for students, as well as his strong communication skills. Duncan also pointed out passion for curriculum as a strength. 

“I think it’s wonderful that we have the opportunity to keep both finalists,” said school board member John McCarthy, before a vote was taken at the meeting. 

Both candidates will start in their new roles on July 1. Blanchard will make $110,000 while Dustin will make $65,520, according to Duncan. 

Blanchard said he has yet to meet Dustin other than sharing a handshake and a hello.

“It sounds ideal to me,” said Blanchard, of working with Dustin. “He’s a student-centered educator who is well-respected.”

The consolidation of the middle and high school principal positions was approved by voters in March, a part of the 2018-19 operating budget. 

An assistant principal position opened up when Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School Assistant Principal Lisa Wilkinson tendered her resignation with the district. No reason was given in Wilkinson’s May 31 letter to the district. 

Wilkinson is the third middle/high school administrator to leave the district this year, with Conant High School Principal Larry Pimental and Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School Principal Robert Clark also resigning. 

“A lot of changes can be difficult for people to handle,” said Duncan, responding to a concerned parent at the meeting who asked if the amount of administrative turnover was symptomatic of instability within the district. 

Duncan spoke highly of Pimental and Clark at the meeting, saying that they believed in the work the district is currently embarking on. 

“The proof will be in how we move forward,” said Duncan. “I am confident in the staff we have assembled.”

Conant High School Assistant Principal Richard Simoneau will transition to the middle/high school’s assistant principal of safety and culture.

“Mr. Simoneau has a real passion for culture and school infrastructure,” said Duncan. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.