Lebanon High, Oxbow Hire Principals
With a fresh job title and new keys in hand, Lebanon High School Principal Tom Marshall tries a key to open a stairwell door at the High School in Lebanon, N.H., on July 21, 2014. Marshall started work as Principal on Friday morning, after finding out he had gotten the job on Thursday evening.
(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
Lebanon — Summer isn’t all vacation for at least two Upper Valley school districts.
School boards in Lebanon and Bradford, Vt., hired new principals for the upcoming school year at their respective meetings last week.
Tom Marshall, formerly assistant principal at Oxbow Union High School in Bradford, has taken the helm at Lebanon High School, while educational consultant Doug Harris, of Swanton, Vt., will take the top job at Oxbow. Oxbow will no longer have an assistant principal. Instead, behavioral specialist Joseph Donarum will step into a new position, that of dean of students.
“ I’m really excited to be here,” said Marshall of Lebanon High. “I’m looking forward to meeting more of the folks here.”
Marshall, 54, who lives in Newbury, Vt., started work at Lebanon High on Friday after a six-year stint at Oxbow. Over the course of Marshall’s more than two decades in education, he has spent time as a principal at Spaulding High School in Barre, Vt., and Northfield Middle and High School in Northfield. He began his career by teaching social studies at Richford High School in Richford, Vt.
He said he is eagerly familiarizing himself with the Lebanon school community.
Before the kids arrive in September, Marshall said, he hopes to spend time examining the budget and schedules and meeting faculty and staff — “ getting a sense of what they need to be successful at their jobs.”
Primarily, Marshall said, he hoped to take time to “get a sense of the culture of the school.”
Marshall said he was optimistic that a new system of teacher evaluation would help to provide teachers with feedback that would help them improve their instruction.
As a teacher, Marshall said, “I never felt I was evaluated in a way that helped me improve. Now as an administrator, I want to use a teacher evaluation system that focuses on that.”
Marshall, whose one-year contract includes a salary of $90,000, said he planned to keep the students’ needs at the forefront of his mind.
“My passion is really on increasing student achievement,” he said. “You have to love kids to be in this profession.”
School Board Chairman Jeff Peavey said he was particularly hoping to see Marshall “pulling staff together” in order to “bring everyone back to the same page.”
Peavey lauded Marshall for quickly obtaining his New Hampshire principal certification, including taking a trip to Concord to complete the necessary paperwork.
“He did what was needed to get himself prepared,” said Peavey.
Andrew Gamble, Lebanon High School social studies teacher and president of the Lebanon Education Association, sat on the hiring committee which selected Marshall and said he supported the hiring decision because Marshall “seemed like a really nice guy” and seemed as though “he cared very deeply about education.”
Lebanon school officials have also found a replacement for outgoing business administrator Jim Fenn in former Claremont business administrator Tim Ball. The board approved Ball’s hiring on July 8 and Ball started work Monday, said Peavey.
Officials continue to search for an interim superintendent and hope to have a final candidate for the permanent superintendent position by mid-February, said Peavey.
They are also conducting a search for a new director of technology and a new board member to replace Doug Preston, who died June 30.
The district is accepting letters of interest for the open board seat through Friday, said Peavey. The board plans to interview candidates on July 30.
Beth Cobb, superintendent of Orange East Supervisory Union, said she was “excited” for Oxbow’s new “leadership team” to get started.
Harris will begin work as an interim principal on July 28. He has a two-year contract with the district. Cobb said his salary “needs to be negotiated.”
In recent years, Harris has provided consulting services to school administrations across the region. He previously worked as the superintendent of Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union and as principal of the grades K-12 Blue Mountain Union School in Wells River.
Harris said he was drawn to the position as a way to “spend my working time in Vermont,” his home for 30 years. He has most recently been consulting with administrators in New York state.
He said he knows Cobb through math curriculum work and said he looks forward to working with her and to “really getting the focus on what’s going on in the classroom.”
Harris said he plans to spend as much time as possible observing students and teachers.
“The first thing I’m going to have to do is a lot of listening and a lot of watching,” he said.
Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3213.