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Meet Alton Central School's new principal

John MacArthur ready for the new school year

JOHN MACARTHUR JR is the new principal at Alton Central School. Courtesy Photo.
August 02, 2017
ALTON — After a detailed, careful search process, SAU 72 has chosen its new principal, John MacArthur, Jr. He was formerly the assistant principal at Weare Middle School, and most recently, the principal of Boynton Middle School in New Ipswich.

MacArthur is married and has an eight-year old son. He was a music teacher when administration at a school he used to teach at recommended that he take an administration course through Rivier University, and he was "hooked." Still a musician at heart, in his free time he likes to play the drums.

MacArthur is the latest of several administrative changes that have occurred at Alton Central School throughout the last couple of years, from the introduction of Pamela Stiles as superintendent, to the election of math teacher James LaFreniere to vice-principal earlier this summer, and now a new principal. "We've already had a few opportunities to meet this summer," MacArthur said from behind his organized desk, music playing softly from the computer. "We've been working together on hiring, talking about different things going on with the school, and things moving forward and what we want to see to make improvements with these kids."

In his time spent with LaFreniere so far, he has seen similarities in a love for being in the classrooms with the kids and getting involved in the activities in the school on a day-to-day basis. The administrations of Alton Central School, Prospect Mountain High School and Barnstead Elementary School have a meeting soon to discuss the coming school year.

MacArthur has been in the school for about four weeks, and therefore has not had much contact with the students yet, but he has seen what kids have been doing in a couple of summer programs including Camp Invention, a STEM-based program directed by a middle school science teacher.

While summer programs may be the only contact he's had with students so far, he has gotten to know many of the faculty and staff, and he is confident that the students will be just as good as the teachers. "There seems to be a lot of support, a lot of dedicated staff, and we have a great superintendent. The staff that I've met so far are awesome to deal with. To me, if the staff is great, I know the kids are going to be awesome."

MacArthur gave updates on the improvements going on throughout the building, particularly the asbestos abatement process. The floorings in the eighth-grade wing have recently been removed and replaced.

Alton Central School has implemented a Sunday night phone call, notifying parents of events for the coming week, as well as e-mail notifications, and those will be continuing as MacArthur makes his transition. ACS also has a mobile app, which parents and students alike can use for information, as MacArthur explained.

He has spent a lot of time in middle schools, so venturing into a school with preschool through eighth grade is something MacArthur is looking forward to. "Ever since the birth of my son, it was something I was definitely interested in pursuing," referring to working with younger kids. "For me, it's the best of both worlds. I get to have it all because I was interested in challenges of elementary versus middle school."

MacArthur explained the educational model he has experience with, and it shows his dedication to building a connection with the students. As he said, it focuses on "looking at students' strengths and weaknesses, and if they have a strength, building on that and creating an enrichment for them so they can use what they've learned and put it to use, versus if the student needs an intervention—if they may not be where they're supposed to be in a certain subject or a certain part of a subject—you create an intervention for those kids so their weaknesses will hopefully become strengths... it's all hands on deck working with these kids to make sure they get the education they need."

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