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Cornwall, Mary Hogan and Weybridge schools get new principals

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Posted on April 11, 2019 |
By John Flowers



principals.jpg
FROM LEFT, HEATHER Raabe, Bingham Memorial School principal; Michaela Wisell, Mary Hogan Elementary School assistant principal; and Nicole Carter, Weybridge Elementary School principal

MIDDLEBURY — New principals this summer will take charge at four of the Addison Central School District’s seven elementary schools.

Three have already been hired: Nicole Carter, recently chosen to succeed longtime Weybridge Elementary School Principal Christina Johnston; Heather Raabe, who will replace Jen Kravitz at the Bingham Memorial School in Cornwall; and Kravitz, who will move from Cornwall to the helm of Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary.

Steve Lindemann — current interim leader at Mary Hogan — chose not to apply for the job he has held since taking over for former Principal Tom Buzzell last summer, according to ACSD Superintendent Peter Burrows.

The Independent in February interviewed Kravitz on her move to Mary Hogan, and she’ll be aided by a new assistant principal: Michaela Wisell, currently the social emotional learning coordinator in the Mount Abraham Unified School District.

Meanwhile, a search committee is now interviewing candidates for the fourth ACSD principal opening, at Bridport Central School. Current Bridport Principal Jennefer Paquette is leaving to take an administrative post at the Fair Haven Grade School. Burrows said on Tuesday he hopes to name a new Bridport school leader within 10 days.

What follows are brief interviews with Carter, Raabe and Wisell, and testimonials from Burrows on what made them the preferred applicants for their respective jobs. Burrows said approximately 20 candidates applied for each of the four vacancies. It’s no coincidence that each hire has a talent in, or affinity for, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which the ACSD is adopting.

“We’ve had a successful hiring process and a strong pool of applicants,” Burrows said.

NICOLE CARTER, WEYBRIDGE

Carter joins the Weybridge school after seven years as director of the Allen Street Campus of Rutland City Schools. She holds master’s degrees in teaching and social work and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy.

“She brings a student-centered, collaborative approach to school leadership and a commitment to engaging with the Weybridge and ACSD communities,” Burrows said. “Her teaching and learning philosophy aligns perfectly with the mission of IB and our focus on providing learning environments where students explore, inquire, reflect, and take action.”

In an emailed response to the Independent, Carter said she — as a Middlebury parent — has long been aware of the Weybridge school’s commitment to “the best version of public education.”

“The application and interview process reaffirmed this understanding,” she said, adding the district’s “transparency, level of commitment to the community, and proactive examination of the issues, all make ACSD a place where I want to work.”

Moreover, Carter is excited to be part of the district’s transition to an IB curriculum.

“The implementation of the IB program is unique because of the way it shifts the experience of schooling toward a more engaged approach to learning, emphasizing not just content or academic skills, but the meaning and purpose of being an educated young human,” she said.

Carter began her career as an educator in California 20 years ago. That career has included seven years as school-based clinical social worker in both public and independent schools. She moved to Middlebury in 2012 for her first job as a school administrator, in Rutland City.

In addition to being an educator, she’s also a licensed psychotherapist in Middlebury — a vocation that she said deeply informs her understanding of schools, children, and families.

Carter described her leadership style as “authentic, intellectually engaging, and committed to building engaging and effective educational programs. I imagine I am seen as someone who works hard to help us all get it right. As a leader I aim to support children, staff, and families, with my whole heart and mind by helping us all ensure that a child’s schooling supports the development of academic skills as well as the innate human need for purpose, meaning, and connection.”

She’s anxious to start her new job.

“I am too excited for words,” she said.

HEATHER RAABE, CORNWALL

Raabe joins the Cornwall school after four years as assistant principal at Global Village Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she helped bring the community together in the redesign of its international school, according to Burrows. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Colgate University as well as numerous post-graduate degrees, including an advanced certificate in Educational Leadership.

“She has a strong background in IB and leads with a commitment to student voice,” Burrows said. “Her community focus, her ties to Vermont, and her experience in leading through collaborative engagement will make her a great leader at Cornwall school.”

Raabe saw in Cornwall a school committed to the “success of all learners,” and like Carter, wanted to be part of the ACSD’s transition to IB.

“Cornwall is also in a beautiful area of the state and not far from our family,” she said in an email. “When I visited Cornwall elementary, I immediately felt welcomed and I noticed the strong sense of belonging that people share.”

Raabe, with two decades experience as an educator, described her leadership style as “People focused. I believe in a collaborative approach and building capacity from within.”

Raabe and her family are getting ready to move to the Green Mountain State.

“I am very excited to join the community and get to know the students, staff, and families,” she said.

MICHAELA WISELL, MARY HOGAN

Wisell’s many contributions to the Mount Abe district include service as a physical education and health teacher and social emotional coach at Bristol Elementary School.

She holds a Masters in Education in School Leadership from the University of Vermont.

“Michaela has a strong vision of progressive education and the importance of building systems that are based in data and supported by professional development for teachers and staff,” Burrows said. “Her work is deeply rooted in creating belonging, safety, and joy for students and staff through collaboration, high quality instruction, and reflection.”

Wisell has been an educator for 14 years, and believes she’ll be a positive addition to the Mary Hogan Elementary team.

“What drew me to Mary Hogan was that it afforded me the opportunity to begin my leadership career in Addison County in a school that is similar in a lot of ways to the school in which I began my teaching career,” she said.

She promised to be a “democratic leader,” someone who’ll “make decisions collaboratively with a strong team. The leader typically, guides and facilitates the decision making process and harnesses the knowledge and strengths of their staff or team to make thoughtful decisions. I believe that including stakeholders in the change process is essential.”

She’s anxious to meet her new colleagues and the students they’ll all be serving.

“I couldn't be more excited to join the team of incredibly dedicated staff at Mary Hogan,” she said. “I very much look forward to capitalizing on Mary Hogan’s strengths and working collaboratively to continue to serve the students and community of Middlebury.”

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]

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