BRISTOL — At the beginning of this month, new Addison Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent David Adams took hold of the ANeSU helm, replacing Evelyn Howard who held the position for 12 years.
Adams comes to ANeSU with more than 30 years of teaching and administrative experience. His wife, Judith Adams, is the assistant superintendent at Bennington Rutland Supervisory Union. The avid outdoorsman is currently renting a home in Huntington, and he has two daughters and three grandchildren.
A career educator, Adams left the Windsor Southwest Supervisory Union at the end of June, having run the show as superintendent for the past two years.
The reason he left, he said, was to make a good supervisory union — ANeSU — even better. He liked the educational framework, policies and commitment that the Bristol-based supervisory union showed.
Adams said he was most impressed by the dedication to community education that he saw from administrators, teachers, maintenance staff, parents and the students.
“Everybody makes a contribution to a good educational system,” he said. “It’s been very clear from every conversation I’ve had with community members that they’re not only invested in their individual schools, but they’re also highly invested in Mount Abraham (Union High School), and that’s absolutely a strength.”
That dedication to Mount Abe, said Adams, is what’s keeping the community’s commitment to education on a healthy course. At the prior district where he worked, not all of the elementary schools sent students to the union high school. But at ANeSU every primary school participates and sends their kids to Mount Abraham Union Middle and High School.
ANeSU’s cohesiveness, he said, is key to producing lifelong learners.
“This position appealed to me because there are these commitments to the union high school graduate,” he said. “Kids from New Haven, Lincoln, Bristol, Starksboro and Monkton are all represented at Mount Abraham. And that representation on that (Mount Abe) board really provides for all students. These kids are looked at as kids from one community, and I think that’s really important.”
Adams also likes the policy-driven approach that ANeSU administrators and boards take.
In early 2011, each of the supervisory union boards adopted a single “Ends Policy” aimed at best educating children “so that they can meet the challenges of lifelong learners and responsible citizens at a cost deemed acceptable by the community,” as the policy reads. Focusing on three major areas, the policy aims to bolster learning through digital and global environments, provide students with life and career skills and help students hone skills to better learn and innovate.
While Adams is pleased to work with what he considers a strong team of administrators and teachers, he does acknowledge that there will be challenges.
“We are facing declines in enrollment statewide and there are resource issues as there always are,” he said. “Financial issues will need to be dealt with. This is a national and statewide issue that isn’t isolated to just us.”
At the outset, Adams won’t try to change much. He said that he’s eager to listen and observe. One of his priorities will be to sit in on classes.
“A personal priority of mine is to be in schools and be as visible as I can,” he said. “It’s very easy to be consumed by the administrative and management responsibilities because they’re quite significant. But I certainly view myself as a teacher and I enjoy teaching and learning and want to have the opportunity to see it.
“Good teaching is like art: It’s sometimes hard to explain, but when you see it you know it,” he said.
In August, Adams will sit down with ANeSU administrators for three days to iron out school safety plans, teacher evaluation methods and goals for the coming year. He’ll meet with each of the school boards, and he’s planning an open house for community members to meet with him in the next month.
Although he’ll be busy moving into a fresh school year, he said he’d make time to talk with parents and concerned community members.
“I’ll spend as much time reaching out to the community as I can,” he said.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]