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Lebanon Introduces Elementary Principal

Eloise Ginty

Eloise Ginty

Lebanon — The Lebanon School District continues to seek replacements for three vacant administrative positions this summer, but one leadership post has already been filled.

Eloise Ginty, Mount Lebanon Elementary School’s new principal, visited the West Lebanon school last Friday to meet students and parents. The school community welcomed her during the weekly school-wide gathering known as morning sing, the last of the school year.

“Ginty’s our girl, And we’ll be her family, Welcome to Mount Lebanon School,” sang the school’s fourth-graders to their guest of honor.

Following the morning event, Ginty said in a email, “It is clear to me, that at Mt. Lebanon, students (are) at the center of everything that is done and every decision that is made, and this is the place I want to be!”

A Thetford resident, Ginty comes to Mount Lebanon following a four-year stint as principal at Castleton Elementary School in Castleton, Vt., west of Rutland. She is slated to replace interim principal Mary Estee on July 1 with a starting salary of $85,000.

“Eloise Ginty will be a wonderful addition to the Lebanon School District and the Mount Lebanon School community,” said outgoing superintendent Gail Paludi via email. “Her knowledge, background, and experience make her an excellent choice for principal of the school.”

In an interview last week, Ginty said she wasn’t looking for a new job when she saw the Mount Lebanon job posting. She decided to throw her hat into the ring, in part, because it would allow her to significantly reduce her commute and to return to the region where she has spent much of her career.

Before working in Castleton, Ginty, a 1977 Hanover High School graduate, worked as an elementary school teacher at the Newton School in Strafford and the Marion Cross School in Norwich and as principal at the Samuel Morey Elementary School in Fairlee.

In addition to her familiarity with the Upper Valley, Ginty was drawn to Mount Lebanon by its similarity to Castleton. She said the schools have similar demographics and are about the same size. Castleton includes grades pre-kindergarten through 5, while Mount Lebanon is pre-K through 4.

Though in different states, the two schools have adopted similar behavior management systems that place an emphasis on rewarding students for positive behaviors. Ginty described her approach as team-based, with an emphasis on supporting children while they work on their areas of challenge, a little bit at a time.

Similar to the positive reinforcement method she follows with students, Ginty said she believes in supporting teachers by identifying the good things they are doing in their classrooms. In that way, she said she hopes to develop a sense of trust that will allow them to take risks in their teaching.

Ginty is particularly qualified to advise teachers on instruction methods in the area of writing. She has collaborated with fellow educators to develop a method of teaching writing that emphasizes the importance of understanding, structure and craft, known as The Vermont Writing Collaborative.

A piece of writing doesn’t come out well if students don’t first develop a depth of knowledge about their topic, Ginty said.

If she should notice that something is not up to par during teacher evaluations, Ginty said she will provide teachers with the support and professional development they need to improve. She said she plans to begin by making sure her expectations are clear.

“Nothing should be a surprise,” she said.

She emphasized the importance of collaboration across the school community, with her fellow administrators as well as teachers and parents.

Ginty said Mount Lebanon families “can expect someone who is very open to hearing from parents.”

First-grade teacher Mary Skiffington, who sat on the hiring committee that selected Ginty, said, “that sense of community is a big part of Mount Lebanon” and “we were looking for somebody who shared our inclusive model.”

Ginty expressed enthusiasm about joining the Mount Lebanon community, but acknowledged the challenge of joining a school district while leadership is in flux.

She said she had looked forward to working with the departing administrators, including Paludi, business administrator Jim Fenn and Lebanon High principal Nan Parsons.

“It’s sad to see people go,” said Ginty.

On the other hand, however, she said starting at the same time as other new hires might help them to “build a good, strong team.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.