By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — Students at Mount Abraham Union High School will see a new face in the front office when school starts this week. Lincoln resident Nancy Yannett was hired as a part-time dean of students, a position that puts her in charge of discipline for students in grades 11 and 12.
Norm Reuss, who was hired as the Bristol school’s first dean of students last year, will continue on as dean for grades seven through 10. Yannett and Reuss will each be responsible for day-to-day disciplinary issues for their grades.
Yannett, 44, last worked in South Burlington High School, where she managed the independent diploma program for youths who had dropped out and wanted another chance to complete their education. She said she is looking forward to join the MAUHS administration.
“I wanted to use my skills in a whole-school environment,” Yannett said. “Mount Abe is a school and has a community that is really invested in what’s best for its students.”
Yannett, who was hired July 25, will be first person to hold the position, which the school board created earlier on June 6 in a reorganization of the MAUHS administration and their responsibilities. Mount Abe Principal Paulette Bogan led the effort to add the dean, arguing that her time was almost entirely occupied by discipline issues and she wanted to refocus on management and oversight of teacher performance. Reuss was offered the dean of students position last year after the school board decided not to hire a police officer to be stationed in the school.
Yannett’s position was funded by reassigning money budgeted in the 2006-2007 school year spending plan for a guided study hall supervisor, which some board members objected to changing without seeking voter approval.
In the end, the administration and the school board decided that a new dean was a higher priority. “We’re tight on staffing, but we’ve got (study halls) covered,” Bogan said.
Bogan said that changes to the spending plan as they go through the year are often necessary. “We’re given a budget to work with,” she said. “We don’t go back to the voters for every decision on how to implement that budget. We keep re-evaluating what are the best services we can provide for students.”
In some ways, Yannett expects the work to be like her job at SBHS. “The majority of it is quite similar in the discipline area, working with teachers and outside agencies to support students,” she said.
There are a few differences, though. At SBHS, the independent diploma program had only about 10 to 20 students, depending on the year. At MAUHS, she will be responsible for the discipline of about 330 students. “I’m attracted to the job, the opportunity to work with students in a much larger community,” Yannett said.
School board Chair Lanny Smith said that Yannett wowed the board in the interview process. “She has a great handle on working with kids,” he said. “Hardly anybody had any questions, they were so impressed with how she had done.”
Bogan said she looked forward to working with Yannett. “My instinct is that she’s going to be an absolute pleasure to work with. She brings a lot of experience at working with students at risk,” Bogan said. “I think she’s going to complement our administrative team very well.”
Although the board was impressed by Yannett, Smith pointed out that the reorganization is an ongoing process and the position is not set in stone. “It changes every year,” Smith said. “We’re trying something new… if this works out well, there will be another contract offered.”