Community meets WLC principal candidates

  • Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle/High School Principal candidate Robin Croteau meets with community members. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle/High School Principal candidate Michael Kell talks with community members Tuesday night. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/1/2023 1:50:18 PM

Wilton and Lyndeborough residents had the opportunity to meet the two finalists for the new principal of the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle/High School on Tuesday, with the School Board expected to make a selection during its next scheduled meeting.

The two candidates are Robin Croteau, a science teacher at ConVal Regional High School with administrative experience as an assistant principal at Mascenic Regional High School, and Michael Kell, a longtime administrator with principal and assistant principal experience in both small and large schools.

Croteau served as the assistant principal at Mascenic from 2020 to 2022. Prior to that, she was a science teacher at Keene High School for two years and an administrator in ConVal Regional High School for 15 years.

Kell most recently served as a long-term substitute and counselor, but has extensive experience in administration, including as the education director for the Meadows Education Center in Brattleboro, Vt., as principal of Snyder High School in Jersey City, N.J., in 2013 and 2014, principal of Windsor Jr.-Sr. High School  in Windsor, Vt., for three years and 12 years of experience as an assistant high school principal at two schools in Pennsylvania. 

Both candidates said they were interested in pursuing a position in a small school.

“I think the small learning environment offers you more of a relationship,” Kell said. “You’re able to know the students, know the families, know the faculty and staff.”

Kell said those relationships allow for building trust and connections with resources outside of the school walls.

Croteau said her two years as assistant principal at Mascenic Regional High School showed her she wanted to pursue administration in similar-sized districts.

“The size of the community is what drew me to this position,” Croteau said. “I loved that even coming in when everyone was wearing masks, I was able to learn everyone’s name and what their interests were. Mascenic really showed me that if I pursued leadership I want to do it in a small-school setting. Changes for the positive take hold and come about more quickly in smaller communities.”

Both candidates said they took an approach to student discipline that focused on growth.

Croteau said both as a teacher and an administrator, she would make accountability part of her discipline. Students who were caught plagiarizing, for example, were made to research and answer questions on what is and isn’t plagiarism, and Croteau had conversations with a student who was posting inappropriate photos on Instagram about internet safety.

Kell said his approach was aimed at creating a framework of “restoration.”

“We really look at the harm that was done, and how we’re able to restore that,” Kell said.

When asked how they would address the lingering impacts of COVID-19, including learning loss, Kell said the view of the impacts had to be expanded beyond just academic performance to how it had affected students socially and emotionally.

Kell said COVID had created a cultural shift where it was more important than ever to take a “whole-child” approach.

“If they’re not ready to learn, no matter what we do, they’re not going to learn,” Kell said.

Croteau said she was at ConVal when the district created its Teachers in Academic Support Centers, or TASC model, which was a block of time in the middle of the school day where students could access teacher assistance or enrichment and extension opportunities, without interfering with other after-school activities. Croteau said having then had the opportunity to bring those concepts to a similar-sized district in Mascenic, she was well-poised to do the same in Wilton-Lyndeborough.

Both candidates toured the school on Tuesday, including meeting with student class presidents and students, and held a meet-and-greet Tuesday night with community members, who had the opportunity to submit comments with their preferred candidate.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244. or She's on Twitter @ AshleySaariMLT.

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